On Tuesday, the streaming giant lifted the curtain on its viewing data, releasing global midyear viewer data for every title on its service in what it said would be regular reports. The first report covers 18,000 titles, representing nearly 100 billion hours viewed. The political thriller The Night Agent was the most-watched title globally in the first half of 2023, generating 812.1 million hours of viewing. That was followed by Season 2 of the family drama Ginny & Georgia and the debut of The Glory, a South Korean series.
A low-level FBI operative in the basement of the White House, The Night Agent finds himself pulled into a dangerous conspiracy with implications for the President’s office. Its global audience is the highest of any Netflix original title this year, and its viewership has climbed steadily since the show’s release in March.
That growth is reflected in the chart below, which ranks according to the total number of hours watched this year. It includes both original and licensed content but only shows that accrued at least 50,000 hours of viewing are considered for the list. The ranking is based on three months.
The new data is a big step forward for Netflix, which has long shunned disclosure of viewing figures for its shows and films. That policy bred mistrust over time with creatives, who felt the company was hiding viewing numbers to avoid paying them more for popular titles. Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos addressed those concerns during a call with journalists on Tuesday.
He emphasized that the new viewership data is “a significant change” in the company’s approach, adding that Netflix would publish this data biannually. He also clarified that the data release was not directly related to the recent strikes by Hollywood writers and actors demanding higher compensation for their work.
During the call, Sarandos said that a critical reason for the transparency shift was to help ensure that Netflix’s viewers receive the best possible experience on the platform. He also cited the need to protect copyrighted material.
In addition to the new data, the company published weekly lists of its top titles in each language and country on Tuesday. The releases are accompanied by weekly global top 10 charts, which rank titles per-country but do not include viewing hours.