In a Rare Move, Netflix Reveals Stats That Show It's Dominating Home Viewing

'Enola Holmes'
'Enola Holmes'
Everyone wants to know what's on Netflix...

The pandemic has decimated theatrical distribution. It's safe to say that we will never return to the way things were, but no one knows where we are going with film distribution.

One thing we have observed is that when Netflix drops a new, huge title, people are watching it... and they're watching it in the tens of millions over a period of weeks. 

The numbers for these releases are so good that Netflix, usually tight-lipped about this stuff, is out there bragging on social media about it. 

That thread really captures how intense the streamer's recent successes have been. People are staying home, and they're watching Netflix. 

But these metrics are a little fickle.

First, they are self-reported. The stats are based on the number of member accounts that have watched a given show or movie for a minimum of just two minutes. While normal TV usually calculates average time viewing, Netflix does not release that. 

Here are some graphs from Variety that puts things into perspective. 

Who finishes watching what? Credit: Variety
Did you watch all of these movies all the way through? Credit: Variety

Therefore, these numbers are more of a popularity contest than anything. 

But damn, these new Netflix titles are popular. 

In fact, four of the movies released to Netflix during the pandemic have rocketed up their charts to become their most-viewed movies of all time. This was Netflix’s list of the biggest film openings as of July 2020, as compiled by IndieWire.

  1. Extraction – 99 Million
  2. Bird Box – 89 Million
  3. Spenser Confidential – 85 Million
  4. 6 Underground – 83 Million
  5. Murder Mystery – 73 Million
  6. The Irishman – 64 Million
  7. Triple Frontier – 63 Million
  8. The Wrong Missy – 59 Million
  9. The Platform – 56 Million
  10. The Perfect Date – 48 Million

And now, as of October 2020, here's how that list has changed...

  1. Extraction – 99 Million
  2. Bird Box – 89 Million
  3. Spenser Confidential – 85 Million
  4. 6 Underground – 83 Million
  5. The Old Guard – 78 Million
  6. Enola Holmes – 76 Million
  7. Project Power – 75 Million
  8. Murder Mystery – 73 Million
  9. The Kissing Booth 2 – 66 Million
  10. The Irishman – 64 Million

And this only accounts for movies. On the TV side, 50 million households viewed the first season of Cobra Kai. That's not even a Netflix show. It was originally on YouTube but really found its following on the Netflix platform. 

Netflix's ability to profit off a second run is astounding. They're crushing with Schitt's Creek, which swept the Emmys this year, and Lucifer, which scored 38 million households off its regular network and on Netflix. 

While the second-run phenomenon is wild, Netflix still has its own shows doing very well. Ryan Murphy’s Ratched gathered 48 million viewers, while the newest season of The Umbrella Academy brought in 43 million.

Documentary American Murder: The Family Next Door was projected to attract 52 million households, and The Social Dilemma scored 38 million. 

There's no end in sight to Netflix's dominance. Other companies are just going to need to find a way to keep up. But with the ability to pick up scraps and second viewings to help themselves, the streaming wars just got a new wrinkle. 

What do you think happens next? Let us know in the comments.      

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Your Comment


I don't think using 2 minutes is a very sensible metric for counting whether a movie (or TV show has been watched). The auto start feature which is irritating as hell means that when you click on a movie to read what it is about means that it starts playing. If you are dealing with the kids or getting dinner ready the movie will be playing. In addition there are several movies in netflix that I thought I would give a go, but they weren't very interesting so I stopped watching. Perhaps Netflix still considers a disinterested audience an audience. Watching 70% of the movie I think would be a far more accurate measure.

October 22, 2020 at 9:26PM


It's entirely in keeping with their business strategy that they use such a short amount of time to try and pretend they are dominating the space. I'd imagine most people spend the majority of their time on netflix as i do- flicking through an absolute sea of hideously bad content to try and find something watchable. I usually give 7-10 shows a a 5 min look each before switching platforms or settling on something to actually watch. Netflix counts all the crap you didn't watch as "viewed" and of course their stuff has autoplay. Netflix is all about deception. Again the outrageous way they categorise all the shows and films they purchase the rights on as "netflix original" rather than "exclusive" which is the correct term that everyone else uses, tricking people into thinking they make all this content and dominate the space. Their whole strategy is built so heavily on deception and lies.

October 30, 2020 at 9:43AM