Netflix Is Reporting Hours Watched On Shows And The Numbers Are Crazy

By Doug Norrie | 2 weeks ago


With the proliferation of streaming services like Netflix across all platforms, there has been a changing of the guard when it comes to the way people have viewed “success” in the television and movie space. Forever it was an easy calibration, with a couple of metrics telling the whole story. On the television side, folks lived and died with the Nielsen ratings. For movies, box office numbers were (and still are frankly) the be-all, end-all.

But now, with streamers pumping billions of dollars into original programming for their platforms alone, the game has changed dramatically. And those streaming folks have often held tight to the numbers generated on their own individual platforms. The internal algorithms are telling a different story, informing business decisions above all. That is starting to change though with investors wanting to see some of these numbers as part of the overall picture. Netflix now reporting a new metric that allows us to see the number of hours users have watched certain programs and movies. The numbers are, well, startling. 

At a Netflix presentation for the Code Conference earlier in the week, CEO Ted Sarandos showed a slide that highlighted some of the hours watched for the platform’s flagship programming. We are pushing some crazy stats here and if this is the way Netflix chooses to report things going forward, we will start to get a true sense of just how much time people spend on the streamer. Hint: it’s a ton. And take into mind that these numbers you are about to see only represent the first month (28 days actually) each program was on the platform.

bridgerton season 2

Topping the list of the most-watched Netflix programs was Bridgerton Season 1 at 625 hours. Money Heist part 4 wasn’t too far behind (relatively speaking) at 619 million hours. The third season of Stranger Things came in third at 582 million hours. It’s worth noting here that Netflix counts the whole season when factoring in hours watched.

Sarandos also let on that there was likely to be a shuffling of the rankings pretty soon. When the month-long numbers for the instant-hit Squid Game come out, he speculated that it would overtake the top of the Netflix list, definitely in the worldwide market where it is basically crushing. If that’s the case, and based on the confidence Sarandos showed, we could be talking about something close to a 700 million hour mark in the first month. 

On the movie side, the numbers are lower only by comparison. That’s because, as stated, a full season of a show is all piled together. The movies therefore just have less overall run time. In the pole position for Netflix’s movie side was Sandra Bullock’s Bird Box at 282 million hours with Chris Hemsworth’s Extraction coming in at 231 million hours. It’s no surprise that both are in line for sequels in the near future. Martin Scorcese’s The Irishman came in third, though remember that this movie did have a limited theatrical release at the time to make it eligible come award’s season. 

bird box

With streaming becoming even more and more mainstream and the viewing habits of folks changing dramatically, especially in the last few pandemic-y years, these numbers are likely to continue to only grow. That’s especially the case if they are going to continue landing on original content that plays across multiple age groups and demographics (Squid Game being an example). And with investors wanting more and more information about where their own dollar is landing, we should see more platforms become public-facing when it comes to subscriptions and hours spent watching.