Netflix, the subscription video on demand service, is notoriously cagey about its metrics, but new information submitted to British lawmakers shows the company’s attempts to become more transparent through three key descriptors.

As part of evidence submitted to the Lords Select Communications Committee, which is examining the impact of VOD and SVOD services on the British television industry, with particular focus on the effects on public broadcasters, Netflix shed light on information provided to producers.

The three descriptors measured after seven and 28 days of release on Netflix are:

  • Starters: “households that watch two minutes of a film or one episode”.
  • Watchers: “households that watch 70% of a film or single episode of a series”.
  • Completers: “households that watch 90% of a film or season of a series”.

 In particular, the submission points to the starters and completers metrics. “We believe that these two metrics will give our creative partners a broader understanding of how members engage with their title from start to finish.” The watchers metric, meanwhile, is shared “selectively … with both the public and with creators.”

The metrics add to previous reports, notably from Business Insider in 2016, that the most important measure for a show’s performance on Netflix is its ability to draw in and retain subscribers. Shows that do both, such as the wildly popular Stranger Things, are renewed; shows with smaller, albeit hardcore, fan bases can often find themselves scrapped.

For producers, both from a traditional content perspective, and newer branded entrants – such as the racing series Formula 1, which opened access up to its teams’ inner workings for a Netflix show – these numbers are the closest they get to traditional ratings.

Core to the problem of Netflix’s metrics opacity is the fact that it is unclear to producers why their programs have not been renewed. Netflix, in both its written evidence and its earnings calls, has talked about solving this problem and improving.

“I think it’s important for artists to understand, to have the audience also understand the size of the reach of their work”, said CEO Reed Hastings, in comments reported by the Verge. “So that’s why you’ll see us ramping up a little bit more and more and giving out – sharing a little more of that information.”

Netflix reported that its subscriber growth was slowing in the US, according to figures issued earlier this month, the last quarter before new competitors in the shape of Disney+ and Apple+ arrive on the scene. 

Sourced from UK Parliament, Business Insider, The Verge, WARC, Recode