Sarandos, in an appearance at Vox Media’s Code Conference at the Beverly Hilton, showed two slides: One showing the most popular Netflix shows by its proprietary metric of the number of accounts that watched a given title in the first 28 days of release (and streamed at least 2 minutes) and a second showing total time spent viewing by hours within the first 28-day window.
“We’re trying to be more transparent with talent, with the market,” Sarandos said. Netflix’s streaming data is “a big black box, mostly,” he acknowledged.
Shonda Rhimes’ “Bridgerton” Season 1 scored as the No. 1 series based on both number of Netflix households and time spent viewing (in the initial four-week release), while “Extraction” was the most-viewed film in terms of households and “Bird Box” was the most-watched in terms of hours.
That said, Sarandos said that high-concept Korean survival drama “Squid Game,” which premiered Sept. 17, was on pace to be the most popular Netflix show ever, and currently ranks as the No. 1 show worldwide on the service. “We did not see that coming, in terms of its global popularity,” Sarandos said.
Here are the slides Sarandos showed at Code Conference, which are based on Netflix’s own internal monitoring:
Rankings by No. of Households Sampling a Title (First 28 Days of Release)
Rankings by Overall Time Spent Viewing (First 28 Days of Release)
Asked about Netflix’s move to strike overall deals with the likes of Rhimes and Ryan Murphy, Sarandos said the company needed to go down that route to compete with traditional entertainment companies.
“If we didn’t do that deal with Shonda, ‘Bridgerton’ would have been somewhere else,” Sarandos said. He added, “The talent has to be respected and has to be compensated competitively.”
Sarandos was interviewed on stage by Vox Media’s Kara Swisher, who asked if Netflix would by a theater chain or an adjacent digital media company like Spotify. No, Sarandos said: “We’ve always been builders instead of buyers.”
Sarandos, who started working at Netflix in 2000 as a DVD buyer, was named co-CEO alongside Reed Hastings in July 2020. Sarandos oversees the company’s teams worldwide responsible for the acquisition and production of all Netflix content.