Tuesday, January 21, 2020


It has been quite a while now since Disney began systematically removing their licensed digital content from the global streaming juggernaut that is Netflix, in order to build up their own exclusive streaming service, Disney+. Now the two are pretty much in the thick of things where the “streaming wars” are concerned, trying to one-up each other in terms of their respective original content offerings. Disney+ has recently been riding high on the extremely positive reception of their “Star Wars” spinoff “The Mandalorian,” which beat some of Netflix’s originals in streaming demand. But Netflix is firing back with bigger view counts for “The Witcher,” though the measures used are eyebrow-raising.

According to The Verge, Netflix is using some form of brinkmanship to inflate the interest being shown for their exclusive original series “The Witcher,” based on a Polish fantasy book series-turned-videogame franchise. The streaming giant gave plenty of hype to their new show, starring Henry Cavill (“Man of Steel” and “Batman v Superman”) during their Q4 2019 earnings report. First, they noted how at least 76 million Netflix subscribers have watched “The Witcher,” and that interest for the show grossly dwarfs that of “The Mandalorian” and other streaming platform originals, as tracked by Google Trends.

The thing is, the statistics cited by the Netflix for how hot a franchise “The Witcher” is now feels fairly skewed when one looks a bit deeper. For the views, the 76 million subscribers who streamed the show were measured in terms of how much of an episode they watched. Originally tracking for those who watched 70% of one episode, the measurement that registered the 76M figure was gotten from those subscribers who choose to watch an episode for a minimum of 2 minutes. That is technically about as long as a “Witcher” cold-opening sequence.

And for the Google Trends measure of interest of “The Witcher,” the metrics are also highly in favor of the Netflix original over the competition. Netflix is available worldwide, or in more territories in comparison to its competition like Apple TV Plus or Disney+. Therefore, “The Witcher” charts much higher than the limited-availability of “The Mandalorian,” which is on a recently-launched platform and has not expanded to more markets yet. Furthermore, Netflix releases its series on streaming in batches, whereas Disney+ goes for a weekly episode release like standard TV.

Netflix explained its “2-minute minimum counts as a whole-episode view” metric as being the same used on YouTube, BBC iPlayer and page-view measurements on The New York Times website, in that two minutes is long enough to consider a page-view as intentional. The Google Trends interest measurement is harder to justify, considering the long-running advantage Netflix has on its rivals.

Image courtesy of Forbes


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