A new TV series running on Netflix is on track to be the streaming service’s biggest first-season original series ever, although some of that may be attributable to how Netflix is counting its viewers these days.
Variety reports that Netflix is saying “The Witcher,” which premiered Dec. 20, was selected to be viewed by 76 million customer households in its first four weeks of release.
“That would appear to mean that some 46% of Netflix’s subscribers as of the end of 2019 watched ‘The Witcher’ over that time span,” Variety reports. “But there’s a caveat with the household viewer number (which isn’t verifiable independently): Netflix changed the definition of what constitutes a viewer. Now, according to the company, it’s measuring accounts that ‘chose to watch and did watch for at least 2 minutes — long enough to indicate the choice was intentional.’ Previously, Netflix reported viewing figures based on the number of accounts that had viewed a TV episode or movie to at least 70% completion.”
The report cites Netflix’s Q4 2019 shareholder letter saying that with the new methodology — which according to the streamer is similar to how YouTube tracks view counts, how BBC iPlayer reports rankings, and how The New York Times ranks its website’s most popular articles — “short and long titles are treated equally, leveling the playing field for all types of our content including interactive content, which has no fixed length.”
Variety adds: “The number of households counted under the new 2-minute-minimum metric is about 35% higher on average than the prior metric, per Netflix. So the new metric includes every Netflix user who was curious enough to watch a few minutes of a title — but may have given up watching shortly afterward. In short, Netflix’s new methodology even further obscures what could be considered the actual audience for a given TV show or movie.”