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Netflix's Updated Viewership Formula Results in a New All-Time Most Popular Series

By Dustin Rowles | TV | June 21, 2023 |

By Dustin Rowles | TV | June 21, 2023 |


Netflix has undergone a couple of changes in recent years in how it determines what its most popular shows are. In its first stab at “transparency,” it ranked shows and movies based on how many people watched at least two minutes, which was a lousy metric because it didn’t take into account how many people stopped watching after three minutes.

After that, Netflix changed the formula, ranking its most popular series based on the total hours viewed in a given week. That was a more reliable metric, but it also resulted in misleading top-ten lists. Season 4 of Manifest is 15 (very stupid) hours, and last week, the fact that it was viewed for 78 million hours suggested that it was more popular than the final season of Never Have I Ever, which was watched for 76 million hours. However, the Manifest season is 15 hours; the Never Have I Ever season is less than five. So while more hours of Manifest were watched, Never Have I Ever was clearly the more popular show, watched by nearly three times more people.

The latest update in that metric takes that into account. Titles will now be ranked by “views,” or the number of hours viewed divided by the total run time. This is the first weekly top ten list to take the new formula into account. As you can see, Never Have I Ever is the top show despite slightly fewer hours watched, while Manifest season 4 falls from the 3rd most-watched under the old formula to the 7th most-watched under the new formula.

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As you can see, Never Have I Ever ranks slightly ahead of Black Mirror even though it was fewer hours viewed because the runtime is also slightly shorter.

In calculating the all-time top ten shows, the ranking will also take into account how many hours a show is watched in its first 90 days instead of its first 30 days, so maybe viewers won’t feel as much urgency to watch a series on its first weekend in order to save it. Under this new formula, the top ten television series in Netflix history (or at least, since it began tracking) has changed. Stranger Things season four is no longer the most popular season in Netflix history. Now it is Wednesday, although Squid Game remains the most-watched series worldwide, regardless of formula. Here is the new top 10 most-watched English series under the new formula.

1. Wednesday Season 1
2. Stranger Things Season 4
4. Bridgerton Season 1
5. The Queen’s Gambit
6. The Night Agent
7. Stranger Things
8. Bridgerton Season 2
9. The Witcher Season 1
10. The Watcher

With the shorter runtimes taken into account, I am surprised that Cobra Kai does not make the list.

It is curious that Netflix would provide an updated formula during the WGA Strike when one of the demands of the writers is more transparency about the popularity of the Netflix series for which they write. Will this be enough?

via TVLine