Netflix will reveal for the first time how many people watch (or don’t watch) its shows

Ryan Gosling attends "The Gray Man" Special Screening
BARB’s data will also help determine how costly ventures, such as Ryan Gosling’s “The Gray Man” performed.
Mike Marsland—WireImage/Getty Images

Netflix has typically kept its viewing figures close to its chest, but now detailed statistics for the streaming service will be available and measured by an external, independent body.

In the past, Netflix has only released very limited audience data, revealing for example, ranked lists of its most popular series and films, or global success stories like the smash hit Squid Game, which broke streaming records.

But beginning in November, Netflix viewing figures will be reported by BARB (Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board), after the streaming giant signs up for the service. 

The British ratings service already reports monthly statistics for over 300 subscribed broadcasting channels including BBC and ITV, but the addition of streaming services—Disney+ has already signed up—allows for far more detailed insight into how traditional channels and streaming platforms compare. 

The U.K. is the first and only country where Netflix has done this, and it comes after policymakers in the country have pressured streaming platforms to abide by the same rules as broadcasters. 

Netflix’s co–chief executive Reed Hastings said he was keeping a promise to the British television industry at a Royal Television Society event in 2019.

“We’ve kept in touch with BARB since then and are pleased to make a commitment to its trusted measurement of how people watch television in the U.K.,” he said.

Why now?

The figures will be used by journalists, advertisers, and competitors to assess the success or failure of Netflix’s offerings—a significant outcome since the platform is launching its new, cheaper, ad-supported subscription tier at the same time in a bid to boost subscribers after a bad year.

Netflix reported a loss of 1 million viewers in the second quarter of 2022, and was overtaken by competitors Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+ in viewer numbers. 

The platform has also pumped heaps of money into original programming, only for these shows to be outperformed by cheaper productions.

Its most expensive movie ever, The Gray Man, cost the company $200 million to make and was reportedly knocked off the top spot by rom-com Purple Hearts in July.

BARB’s data will also help determine just how badly those costly ventures performed. 

The data will be available to BARB subscribers from Nov. 2.

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