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Gal Gadot and Boss Baby are actually huge for Netflix

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Gal Gadot and Boss Baby are actually huge for Netflix

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In the wake of the WGA union contract negotiation last fall, which demanded greater transparency over what was getting watched on streaming services, the typically secretive Netflix opted to start sharing viewership numbers on a regular basis. “This has been on a continuum for several years,” co-CEO Ted Sarandos told Variety last December, suggesting the streamer’s first ever “What We Watched” engagement report was just its way of playing catch up and not at all about being held accountable by the industry. Sure, Jan, etc.

The initial report revealed just how essential licensed TV and movies remained to a platform that was proudly spending oodles on original content. The story to be found in the second report issued on Thursday, which breaks down viewership and streaming hours in both film and television categories from July through December 2023, is more about the surprises: things one might assume were blockbuster hits for the streamer were more like modest wins, while less obvious projects apparently scored big. Also, Gal Gadot is a Netflix star.

Did you see Heart of Stone when it dropped last August? Slick action movie starring Gadot as super spy [checks] Rachel Stone? Not a movie that comes up a lot in conversation. (For what it’s worth, we dug it well enough thanks to some fairly savvy stunts.) But despite its lack of cultural footprint, the latest from the studio and star that brought you Red Notice was a pretty notable hit for Netflix; according to the engagement report, 109.6 million people viewed the movie in the first five months on the platform. That outranks movies like Leo, the down-the-middle kid’s flick starring Adam Sandler, David Fincher’s The Killer, and even the holiday-timed platform release of Super Mario. Oh, and 27 million people also caught up with Red Notice — the Heart of Stone effect is real!!

There was an even bigger winner for Netflix as far as movie output is concerned: the apocalyptic chamber drama Leave the World Behind, starring Julia Roberts and Mahershala Ali, which garnered 121 million views without an action movie price tag. Both Leave the World Behind and Heart of Stone trounced what was supposed to be Netflix’s giant holiday blockbuster, Rebel Moon: A Child of Fire, which rounded out at 57.8 million. While Zack Snyder’s movie might see a bump in the next round of number-crunching thanks to the recent sequel, it’s not a great look to be dominated by 2017’s The Boss Baby in the charts.

On the TV side, no one series was able to eclipse the hit movies based on pure viewership, but there do appear to be winners. Unlike Netflix’s previous live-action anime experiment, Cowboy Bebop, viewers actually showed up for One Piece, which clocked 541.9 million hours of view time in its first season (against 71.6 million views). Compare that to The Witcher season 3, a marquee series that appears to have struggled with only 363.8 million hours (and 47.9 million views). Netflix’s TV chart also saw wins from non-fiction and international programming — with Korean series making up nine percent of the total viewership across the entire platform.

There are tons of wild stats in the engagement report and plenty of conclusions to be made as the streaming industry enters its cost-cutting, bundle-chasing, corporate-strategy-shake-up era. You can read the entire report on Netflix’s corporate site.

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