24 Jan 2020

What’s in a view?

by BRAD REES

In 2014, OTT success was mainly attributable to Netflix. In 2020 OTT success, is mainly attributable to Netflix.

Every three months the Netflix big beasts slouch away from their streaming media server farm to reveal quarterly earnings and subscriber counts, which are quickly followed by financial and media analysts writing about new viewing habits and media revenue models. All is then well with the future prosperity of Netflix and OTT. The new audiences continue to watch everything from The Witcher to Trailer Park Boys.

“The Witcher” Netflix

The anticipated self-harming, panic attack on Wall Street was induced this time around the launch of Disney+ which Netflix CEO Reed Hastings damned with faint praise in his Q4 earnings report this week, saying The Plus had taken ‘a little away from us’.

At Mediacells, we’re not that bothered about the vanity metrics of bla-bla ‘Netflix added more than 8 million net subscribers worldwide’ or, bla-bla ‘a relatively modest 420,000 increase in the United States’ but bla-bla ‘30% down on forecasts from the previous quarter.’

For us, that’s not performance, that’s just puff.

What is much more interesting to our data scientists is the shift in how ‘views’ are now being counted by Netflix.

The benchmark used to be a subscriber watching 70% of a film or TV episode. But in a footnote in the Netflix’s quarterly letter to shareholders the global media streaming giant now states that a view means that a subscriber “chose to watch and did watch for at least 2 minutes — long enough to indicate the choice was intentional.”

Two minutes. This change in performance measurement boosts the figures by 35%.

A view used to be comparable in the good old media networks days and it was then ratified by Nielsen and the likes so everybody, including investors, could sleep; until the next quarterly revenues are revealed.

No one really cares how long they are watching as long as they are still paying the subscriptions, right? Wrong. As we all know, if you don’t use it, you lose it. There is always the unsubscribe button.

Meanwhile, we, the viewers, still to navigate the various and labyrinthine media platform discovery points, as my wife has wont to direct me in the Rees living room,
Put it on HDM Thirteen (HDMi3) and then whatever, I want to watch Succession“.

Until the next self-harming media analyst panic attack – when HBO Max launches in Spring.