Netflix has revealed that it allocates three viewing styles to content in order to assess whether a show is renewed and it’s the number of ‘Starters’ ‘Watchers’ and ‘Completers’ that can determine a show’s fate.In a recent letter to the UK Parliament, the streaming giant gave up some details about how this process to assess a piece of content’s success with an audience actually works. The information came about as Netflix took part in a wide ranging inquiry by the UK Government into ‘public service broadcasting in the age of video on demand’.
Part of Netflix’s submission to the inquiry explained that there was an effort to be more transparent with content creators to help them understand the process which might ultimately lead to their show's cancellation. Part of this process also involves the publication in the UK of the week’s ‘Top 10’ Netflix shows.
The data that Netflix passes on to producers and directors describes three differing ways in which viewers have interacted with the content, all with fairly self-explanatory descriptors. First off, ‘Starters’ is a representation of the number of households that have only watched the first 2 minutes of a film or single episode of a series while ‘Completers’ represents the number of households that have watched 90 percent of a film or season of a series.
These measurements are taken at seven days and then again at 28 days and the company writes “We believe that these two metrics will give our creative partners a broader understanding of how members engage with their title from start to finish.”
There’s a third metric called ‘Watchers’, which takes the form of households that have watched 70 percent of a film or single episode of a series and this is shared selectively with the creators and public, when required.
As this methodology is still undergoing some evaluation, the company says it will consider sharing it outside Europe and the US if it is clear that creators find it useful.
There was no indication of why Netflix uses these particular metrics (or indeed why they’re using a mix of two different measurements - time for Starters and percentage content watched for Completers) nor what ratio of Starters to Completers determines whether a show is renewed or not. For instance, is there greater value in content that draws in 20 million Starters but only 100,000 Completers given that a large number of those Starters could go on to watch something else on the platform, compared to a program that draws 1 million Completers?
Nonetheless, given that Netflix has traditionally been quite coy about releasing viewing figures and associated data, this is a move in the right direction.
Netflix used the submission to the inquiry to reaffirm its commitment to the UK as a production hub (it’s the company’s third largest after the US and Canada). Currently, there are Netflix productions taking place in Wales (Sex Education), Elstree Studios (The Crown), Langley Studios (Cursed), the South West of England (Ben Wheatley’s remake of Rebecca), Liverpool/Manchester (The English Game) along with unnamed projects scheduled for Scotland. The expansion of Shepperton studios into a dedicated UK production facility will also see Charlise Theron’s thriller The Old Guard go into production shortly.
What do AVForums members think of Netflix’s approach to determining a show or movies’ success? And more importantly, have they got it right? Let us know in the thread what you think.
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