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18th Jan 2019

Netflix reveals its viewing figures for the first time

Jessica Buxbaum

Netflix has always been secretive about its viewership statistics — until now

Netflix disclosed staggering audience growth in its fourth-quarter 2018 earnings letter, with hits like Bird Box watched by over 80 million households in the first four weeks of its release.

The streaming service says its accounts for 10% of TV viewing time in the United States.

“We serve on average about 100 million hours a day to television screens in the US”, the company says.

Thriller series You and UK young-adult show Sex Education – both which have generated significant buzz recently – were watched by 40 million member households.

International hits are also receiving impressive viewership numbers with Spanish original Elite watched by 20 million member households around the world in its first four weeks. Italian soap opera Baby and Netflix’s first Turkish original series The Protector were seen by 10 million member households globally in their first month.

“These shows are playing incredibly globally”, Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos said during the company’s earnings interview.

“So it’s an interesting thing when you can tap into the global zeitgeist with something, which gets me very excited about the potential scale of the content business”.

The massive audience range still doesn’t paint a definitive picture of how many people are watching Netflix’s content, though, as the numbers rely on subscriber households and not the actual number of viewers.

Netflix finished up 2018 with 139 subscriptions worldwide, up by 29 million from the beginning of the year. The incredible subscription growth clearly justifies hiking membership prices in the US.

Despite the increased success in subscriptions and viewership, the company fell slightly in stocks and revenue. Netflix reported $4.19 billion in revenue, just under international forecasts of $4.21 billion. Stocks also dropped by around 3% in after hours trading on Thursday. Netflix is preparing for lower-than-expected results as they head into 2019. The company estimates earnings per share of 56 cents on revenue of $4.49 billion, lower than Wall Street expectations of 82 cents and $4.61 billion.