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Netflix Numbers to Boost After Changing Its Definition of Views

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  • In its fourth-quarter report, Netflix announced that it is changing its viewing measures. Now, instead of a view counting as 70% of a title being watched, a view will mean as little as two minutes were watched. 
  • This comes as Netflix exceeded expected growth overseas but fell flat in the U.S. and Canada. 
  • The company said that the reason growth may have faltered in these regions could be related to the launches of services like Disney+ and Apple TV+.

Netflix Changes View Counts

Netflix will be changing the way it measures its views, a move that could increase counts by 35%.

In its fourth-quarter earnings letter to shareholders, the streaming giant said its current method of counting household views no longer makes sense given the content on the platform. Per its old method, the platform counted a view if an account watched “70% of a single episode of a series or of an entire film.”

Netflix, however, believes that this is no longer practical because the time lengths of its titles vary so drastically, with shows as short as 15 minutes and films over 130 minutes. Now, the service will count views based on “households (accounts) that chose to watch a given title.” They explain that if an account chose to watch a title for two minutes, this would count as a view. According to their report, those two minutes are “long enough to indicate the choice was intentional.”

They say the model is comparable to the way BBC iPlayer, the “Most Popular” section of the New York Times, and YouTube views are structured. Still, the change is dramatic. There is a significant time difference between watching two minutes of an episode of television or a feature-length film and watching 70% of that same piece of content. Netflix maintained that the change is necessary and noted the increase in views that will result from it.

“This way, short and long titles are treated equally, leveling the playing field for all types of our content including interactive content, which has no fixed length,” their letter said. “The new metric is about 35% higher on average than the prior metric.”

Netflix vs. New Streaming 

This substantial change for Netflix carries even more weight with the ever-growing threat of the streaming wars, which was also noted in their shareholder letter. The platform exceeded expectations for growth overseas, however, they did not hit the mark in the United States and Canada.

In their fourth-quarter, they added 420,000 customers, despite projections anticipating them reaching 600,000. The letter says this is “probably due to our recent price changes and to US competitive launches.”

This quarter lined up with two major events when it comes to streaming: the launches of both Apple TV+ and Disney+. Compared to Apple TV+, Disney+ is seen as the larger competitor. 10 million people subscribed to the service within 24 hours of its debut. The service offered classics from the Disney vault and new content. Their Star Wars-based original series, The Mandalorian, proved to be a massive success because, as it turns out, not even God himself can compete with the magic of Baby Yoda. 

While the numbers from Disney+ are not as clear yet, especially in a way to show a concrete comparison to Netflix, several studies to indicate The Mandalorian was popular to the masses. According to Parrot Analytics, in mid-November, the show was in higher demand than big Netflix hits like Stranger Things and The Crown.

In their report, though, Netflix seemed relatively unafraid of the presence of these platforms. The company was particularly proud of The Witcher, the Henry Cavill-led drama which hit screens on December 20. Their shareholder letter said the series was “tracking to be our biggest season one TV series ever.” Under their new viewer measurement method, it has hit 76 million member households in its first four weeks.

Netflix also compared The Witcher to its competitors via a Google Analytics chart showcasing the search amounts for several shows. Apple TV+’s The Morning Show and Amazon’s Jack Ryan consistently fell below the mark in comparison. The Mandalorian had a consistent amount of searches during its run, but close to The Witcher’s release date, it surges far ahead of it. 

Image via Netflix/Google Analytics.

The graph, however, only represents worldwide searches. Disney+ is only available in a few countries, including the U.S. When taking a look at just searches in the U.S., The Witcher still leaps ahead after its premiere, but the overall differences are less extreme. The Mandalorian ends up being a much more regular and reliable search than The Witcher and came out with a slightly higher average. 

Image via Netflix/Google Analytics.

Netflix acknowledged that these new shows and platforms do pose a threat in their report but ultimately took a strong position that they were at the top of the game. 

“We have a big headstart in streaming and will work to build on that by focusing on the same thing we have focused on for the past 22 years – pleasing members,” the report said. 

See what others are saying: (The Hollywood Reporter) (Variety) (The New York Times)

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Joe Rogan Says Grimes Did Not Give Dave Chappelle COVID-19

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  • Comedian Dave Chappelle is under quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19. He is asymptomatic and his remaining shows in Austin, Texas have been canceled.
  • The news comes just days after Chappelle was photographed with Joe Rogan, Elon Musk, Grimes, and several others backstage at one of his Austin performances.
  • “Because people are asking, I was not exposed to the person who had covid and I have tested negative every day this week,” Rogan wrote on Instagram Friday. “Also, the person that gave covid to Dave was NOT Elon’s partner @grimes.”

Chappelle Tests Positive

Comedian Dave Chappelle has tested positive for coronavirus and is currently under quarantine, according to one of his representatives.

In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, that rep also confirmed that he is currently asymptomatic and has canceled all of his remaining shows at Stubbs Waller Creek Amphitheater in Austin, Texas.

“Chappelle has safely conducted socially-distanced shows in Ohio since June 2020 and he moved those shows to Austin during the winter,” the statement read.

“Chappelle implemented COVID-19 protocols which included rapid testing for the audience and daily testing for himself and his team. His diligent testing enabled him to immediately respond by quarantining, thus mitigating the spread of the virus,” it continued.

Joe Rogan Speaks Out After He Was Photographed With Chappelle

Two of the remaining Austin shows were supposed to include fellow comedian Joe Rogan. Rogan took to Instagram Friday morning to announce that they will be rescheduled as soon as possible.

Still, many fans had questions about Rogan’s current state of health. The news of Chappelle’s positive test comes just days after he was photographed maskless with Rogan, Tesla CEO Elon Musk, musician Grimes, and several others backstage at one of his Austin performances.

Since Grimes, who is also in a relationship with Musk, recently had COVID, many were concerned that she may have exposed the group. Others wondered if Chappelle may have spread it.

Rogan eventually updates his Instagram caption to dismiss the ideas.

“Because people are asking, I was not exposed to the person who had covid and I have tested negative every day this week,” he wrote.“Also, the person that gave covid to Dave was NOT Elon’s partner @grimes.”

See what others are saying: (The Hollywood Reporter) (CNN) (AP News)

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Netflix Passes 200M Subscribers as Other Streamers Struggle With Retention

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  • In a letter to shareholders, Netflix said it has hit over 200 million subscribers following a successful year of growth.
  • The pandemic gave Netflix a significant subscriber boost in March and April. The company continued to perform well even in its final quarter, gaining 8.5 million subscribers when it was only projected to add 6 million.
  • The data also highlights how relatively unaffected Netflix has been by new streaming services entering the market. While companies like Disney+, HBO Max, and Peacock continue to grow, they also struggle to retain the subscribers that sign up.

Netflix Passes 200 Million Subscribers

Netflix has topped 200 million subscribers following a year of strong growth in 2020.

In its Tuesday letter to shareholders, Netflix announced that it added 8.5 million subscribers in its fourth quarter. This exceeds projections, which estimated the streaming giant would only add around 6 million. In total, Netflix gained 37 million new memberships throughout 2020, bringing the company to 203.6 million subscribers.

Pandemic lockdowns gave Netflix a substantial boost in March in April. In the company’s first two quarters, it added a combined 25.7 million subscribers. According to data from the letter, Netflix had added over 10 million more subscribers by May of 2020 than it had by May of 2019.

When it comes to the success of their fourth quarter, Netflix pointed to shows like “Bridgerton” and “The Crown.” The fourth season of “The Crown” hit the platform in November, prompting many to return to older seasons of the show. Netflix claims the series has been viewed by 100 million households since it first aired in 2016.

Success Amid Growth of Competition

The year 2020 could have been a difficult one for Netflix as new streaming services entered the market. Disney+, Apple TV+, HBO Max, Peacock and more have all made waves with their original programming or by taking some of their brand’s content from Netflix to host on their own site. User-based content on YouTube and TikTok also became increasingly popular throughout the pandemic, further posing as a threat to Netflix. 

Still, it reached a massive milestone. 

“Our strategy is simple: if we can continue to improve Netflix every day to better delight our members, we can be their first choice for streaming entertainment,” Netflix said in the letter. “This past year is a testament to this approach.”

Netflix potentially sees Disney+ as the biggest competitor among new platforms. In its letter, the company noted that the streamer added 87 million subscribers in its first year. In a Q&A, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings seemed enthusiastic about this competition.

“It’s super impressive what Disney’s done,” he said. “It’s going to be great for the world that Disney and Netflix are competing show-by-show, movie-by-movie. We’re very fired up about catching them in family animation, maybe eventually passing them, we’ll see. It’s a long way to go just to catch them, and maintaining our lead in general entertainment that’s so stimulating like ‘Bridgerton,’ which I don’t think you’re going to see on Disney anytime soon.”

Streamers Struggle with Retaining Subscribers

Even as new streamers have had impressive years, there is one hurdle that many are still struggling to jump over: retaining the subscribers who sign up. The Los Angeles Times named Disney+, HBO Max, Peacock, and Apple TV+ in particular, writing that people create accounts with these services, watch the TV shows or movies they are interested in, and cancel once they are done.

An October survey from Deloitte said that 46% of respondents canceled at least one streaming service in the last 6 months, which is up 20% from January of last year. Most who had canceled said they did so because they had finished watching whatever programming it was that brought them to that service. 

Places like Disney+ and HBO Max are really vulnerable to this because they have banked on drawing people in with exclusive marquis titles like “Hamilton” or “Wonder Woman 1984.” However, since they are newer, they are still building their original programming catalog, meaning that people can quickly burn through highlight titles. 

See what others are saying: (Los Angeles Times) (Wall Street Journal) (The Hollywood Reporter)

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Paramount+ To Launch March 4

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  • ViacomCBS is launching Paramount+ in the United States and Latin America on March 4 before rolling out to other markets internationally later this year. 
  • The streaming service will be a relaunch and expansion of CBS All Access. It will include content from Nickelodeon, MTV, and more on top of the CBS-focused selection. 

Paramount+ Gets Launch Date

ViacomCBS will be launching its streaming service Paramount+ in the U.S. and Latin America on March 4 before rolling out in more countries throughout the year. 

It will be an expansion and rebrand of CBS All Access, the service the company currently offers that is used by nearly 8 million subscribers. Paramount+ will go beyond the CBS-centric content promoted there, including works from brands like Nickelodeon, MTV, BET, Comedy Central, and the Smithsonian Channel.

More details about their streaming strategy will be released during an investor event on February 24. Right now, ViacomCBS is boasting that the service will have over 30,000 episodes and movies in their catalog, which will also include live sports and breaking news. 

“The Paramount brand is known and loved all around the world, and is synonymous with great entertainment. It’s always brought people together, which makes it a perfect fit for a streaming service that’s uniquely positioned to do the same,” Josh Line the chief brand officer of ViacomCBS said during a brand announcement in September. “The Paramount+ streaming service will elevate ViacomCBS’ iconic family of brands.”

State of the Streaming Wars

Paramount+ has already announced a slew of original projects including a revival of “iCarly” and a series about the making of “The Godfather” titled “The Offer.”

The service is entering an already crowded battlefield as the streaming wars wages on. It will have plenty of uphill battles to fight since brand recognition for Paramount is not nearly as strong as it is for studios like Disney or NBCUniversal. It will also have to compete with Netflix, which leads the pack in subscribers and unveils new content regularly; HBO Max, which will be home to Warner Media’s new theatrical releases; and Hulu, which hosts original content as well as shows currently airing on cable and network television. 

ViacomCBS has not released information on pricing, but that will likely come during or before the February investor event.

See what others are saying: (Variety) (Deadline) (CNBC)

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