When it comes to ratings, Netflix treats the public and many of its business partners like the characters in “Bird Box” – blindfolded and left to feel their way through the dark, except for a rare glimpse of light.
Secrecy is a charge often leveled at Netflix. In Hollywood, where TV ratings and box-office stats are the lifeblood of business, the streaming entertainment titan plays by its own rules, keeping its viewer statistics out of sight and making it difficult for outsiders to measure the success of its shows.
Recently, though, Netflix has publicly revealed some fuzzy performance figures for a handful of projects, among them the former Lifetime series “You,” the Spanish-language teen drama “Elite” and most prominently the science fiction thriller “Bird Box,” which the company said had been seen by more than 45 million accounts in its first week. But these are the exceptions. Viewership for Netflix’s hundreds of other original series and movies remain corporate secrets.
As Netflix continues to grow, this game of peekaboo has become increasingly irksome to other studios as well as talent agencies, some of which feel that Netflix’s lack of transparency gives it an unfair competitive advantage.
Despite pressure on Netflix to disclose more data, experts say Netflix has little motivation to be more open, in part because it doesn’t answer to advertisers who would normally demand such information.
Netflix also faces rising costs associated with content licensed from other studios, and disclosing ratings on popular shows would likely lead to even higher licensing fees.
–Tribune News Service