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We’re about to find out how popular Netflix shows really are

Netflix has agreed to sign up to the UK’s televisions ratings agency, making it possible to see how hit shows compare to traditional TV viewing for the first time.

The streaming giant has joined the independent Broadcasters Audience Research Board (BARB) agency, meaning we’ll know how many people are watching the next premiere of The Crown for instance, which debuts a new series on November 9.

Until now, Netflix has had full agency over the viewing figures it publishes and has tended to go with viewing hours over a weekend as a metric, rather than the number of people watching or households watching at any given time. Netflix also offers up a regularly refreshed top ten to show which series are attracting subscriber eye-balls.

However, from November 2 we’ll have a greater much greater idea of how a Netflix show performs when compared to a hit show like Line of Duty, for instance. It’ll offer the first apples-to-apples comparison and give a better picture of the cultural impact of Netflix’s biggest shows, and the impact of the social media hype train on viewing figures.

Netflix will hope the independently-verified ratings will add to the legitimacy of its output and obviously paint the company’s original shows in a good light, when compared to the other big hitters on British television; like Love Island or the soaps on BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5.

The initiative will also be designed to attract the advertisers Netflix is courting for the arrival of its ad-suppprted tier in the very near future. If Netflix can show as many people are engaging with its content as the biggest hits on British telly, then it can command a similar fee from advertisers.

Netflix boss Reed Hastings today (via Variety) said that, “back in 2019 … I welcomed the idea of Netflix audiences being measured independently. We’ve kept in touch with BARB since then and are pleased to make a commitment to its trusted measurement of how people watch television in the UK”

BARB is the first agency of its kind Netflix has signed up to, so the eyes of the world will be on UK-based Netflix subscribers for the time being.

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