Netflix’s viewer numbers have always been a little murky, but the streaming giant’s new system aims to clear things up. Netflix will soon track viewer numbers based on the number of hours a certain show or movie has been watched, the streamer announced during its Q3 earnings report on Tuesday. While this switch does give us a better idea of what’s popular, it also has led to an unexpectedly hilarious data table.
For years, Netflix didn’t say anything at all about how many viewers tuned into a certain show or movie. Then the streaming service reported how many people watched 70% of a show or movie. These days it’s been counting an account “view” when a member watches just two minutes or more of a program.
According to Netflix, the new metric is designed to better reflect repeat viewings, rather than just counting each account one time. So for example, the old metric would favor shows that attracted lots of unique viewers, like Tiger King. The new metric favors time committed to a show or film, like 13 Reasons Why. It would seem to favor stickiness over temporary spikes in popularity.
While most of the titles in Netflix’s old top 10 are still present in the new one, there are a couple of very funny additions. For one thing, Martin Scorsese’s crime epic, The Irishman, a movie that wasn’t on the top 10 movies list under the old, most-accounts-watching metric, is now the third most-watched movie in Netflix history. In other words, the notoriously long movie may have just been long enough to notch itself a spot in the top five.
For his part, Scorsese has been a vocal critic of streaming services in the past — even though he keeps making movies for them. The legendary director has claimed that the deluge of content on these platforms, and even the “content” label itself, devalues the art form and buries truly great works. Maybe he’ll feel better about things now that he knows his epic got more attention than initially reported.
On the other end of the spectrum is another new addition to the list: The Kissing Booth 2. While The Irishman’s three-and-a-half-hour runtime is likely tied to its new ranking, The Kissing Booth 2 is only two hours and 14 minutes (still pretty long), which means it’s getting a better spot thanks in large part to re-watches.
The change should help make Netflix’s numbers a little clearer in future earnings calls and announcements. But Netflix did use its old system one last time during the same earnings call. The streaming service announced that the South Korean hit series Squid Game has been watched by 142 million households since its release on Sept. 17. That makes Squid Game the most popular series in the service’s history.
Netflix also announced that it would be revealing viewer data for its original shows and movies more often going forward, which means we can look forward to even more weird numbers and finicky metrics in the future.