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Netflix Pledges to be ‘More Fully Transparent” with Viewership Data

04-17-2019

IL0430netflixphotoNetflix is continuing to release viewership numbers – data long-sought by the licensing community – in an effort to be “more fully transparent” about the programming subscribers are watching globally, Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos said as the company released its Q1 earnings.

Netflix historically has withheld viewership data, information that is key to deciding whether IP is ripe for licensing. But for a second straight quarter, it disclosed information on select programming. Those included: “Umbrella Academy” (released Feb. 15, 45 million views in first month), “Triple Frontier” (March 13, 52 million) and “The Highwaymen” (March 10, 40 million). Meanwhile, the third season of “Stranger Things” will be released in the U.S. on July 4.

“Over the next several months, we’re going to be rolling out more specific and granular data and reporting,” Sarandos said. “First to our producers, then our members and, of course, to the press over time.”

The release of viewership information also comes as Netflix faces new competition in streaming from Disney and Apple. The new services won’t “materially affect” Netflix’s business both because of the “differing nature” of content each offers and the “massive” shift of linear programming to on-demand, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said in a letter to shareholders.

Netflix’s subscriber base increased 25.2% from a year ago to 148.8 million (60.2 million in the U.S., 88.6 million elsewhere) in Q1 ended March 31.

“We believe there is vast demand for watching great TV and movies and Netflix only satisfies a small portion of that demand,” Hastings said.

Netflix began planning seven years ago that major studios would eventually launch their own streaming services and remove programming from Netflix, said Sarandos. That drove Netflix to develop more original programming, he said.  In Q1, the Top 10 most-watched shows on Netflix were all original content, he said.

“We’ve expected this decline of second window content {from studios], been ready for it, anticipating it, in fact, we’re eager to be able to [invest] more and more of our money [in original] titles” rather than paying studios licensing fees, Sarandos said.

In the quarter, net income rose 18.6% to $344 million as revenue jumped 22.1% to $4.52 billion due to both the addition of 9.6 million net new subscribers (1.74 million U.S., 7.86 million elsewhere) and an increase in the monthly subscription fee. But it forecast Q2  total paid net subscriber additions of five million — down 8% from a year ago —  with 300,000 in the U.S. and 4.7 million elsewhere.

Contact:For Q2, Netflix projected total paid net adds of 5.0 million — down 8% year over year — with just 300,000 in the U.S. and 4.7 million for the international segment. 

Netflix, Spencer Neumann, CFO, 408-540-3700, sneumann@netflix.com

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