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Netflix will finally disclose how many people watch its shows, in the UK at least

It has teamed up with an organization that measures TV ratings for the first time.
Bangkok, Thailand - April 25, 2022 : iPhone 13 showing its screen with Netflix application.
Wachiwit via Getty Images
Mariella Moon
Mariella Moon|@mariella_moon|October 12, 2022 8:20 AM

Netflix ranks shows on its platform to give you an idea of what people have been watching recently — and sometimes, it releases hours viewed data for its most popular titles — but it's been keeping its viewership numbers close to the vest. Starting in November, though, it will finally reveal how many people stream its shows, at least in the UK. The streaming giant has teamed up with BARB, a non-profit organization that measures TV ratings in the region, to give us a look at concrete streaming numbers. "BARB is the first industry-owned audience currency in the world that Netflix has joined," the organization said in its announcement. 

While Netflix shows regularly make an appearance in Nielsen's streaming rankings, the two entities aren't officially working together. In fact, Nielsen's list doesn't seem to match Netflix's own Top 10 rankings at times. Reed Hastings, Netflix co-CEO said: "Back in 2019, at the RTS conference in Cambridge, I welcomed the idea of Netflix audiences being measured independently. 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 UK."

BARB will publish viewing figures for Netflix that can be compared to traditional broadcasters starting in the second week of November. The organization will report the service's monthly reach and its share of total identified viewing. In addition to showing how the service is doing compared to traditional TV, BARB will also include shows across all the traditional channels and the streaming service providers that it works with in its weekly report of top 50 shows starting in November. 

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As The Guardian notes, this move suggests that Netflix believes being more forthcoming with its viewer numbers will show the company in a good light. People have long criticized the service for not publishing any viewership metric for flops. The secrecy surrounding its viewership numbers also means program creators (and fans) aren't always sure if their shows are being watched or are in danger of being canceled. 

Based on BARB's preliminary figures from September, Netflix isn't doing poorly in the UK at all. It's the most accessed streaming service in the region. And while it's nowhere near as watched as the BBC, it accounts for 8 percent of all TV viewing in UK, which is higher than some linear channels', including Channel 4 and Sky.

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Netflix will finally disclose how many people watch its shows, in the UK at least