Netflix is sharing data, Broadcast is tweaking comments policy

The veil of secrecy around the viewing habits of Netflix’s 149 million global subscribers is being lifted – albeit slowly, and only slightly. Last week, the SVoD service offered its second tranche of ‘ratings’, revealing that the recommissioned Umbrella Academy had been viewed 45 million times in its first four weeks.

Pushing out selected and unverified figures is frustrating. Netflix can pick and choose which shows to highlight (the hits), and its definition of a view – a user watching at least 70% of one episode of a series – is hardly a cast-iron guarantee of success.

But it is a step in the right direction. Ted Sarandos indicated that the company intends to offer more information about programmes’ performance over the next few months, sharing data with its producers, subscribers and the press.

Netflix believes it can drive viewing by highlighting its most popular shows to subs – look out for the beta testing of the top 10 most-watched shows in the UK – and it also appears to be planning a huge charm offensive around talent.

Convincing the biggest creators and actors to appear in its shows will be easier if it can demonstrate their reach, as well as its willingness to splash the cash. Now Netflix has started down this path, it is likely to edge closer towards more accepted industry practices over time.

“Broadcast is changing its policy on commenting on articles online to preserve the important concept of anonymity while also improving transparency”

Openness helps everyone understand where they stand, which is why Broadcast is changing its policy on commenting on articles online. The thinking behind the change is to preserve the important concept of anonymity while also improving transparency.

The change, effective immediately, will mean that the moniker ‘Anonymous’ is no longer available for posting comments on

Instead, subscribers will be able to set up a ‘Display Name’ within the Edit My Profile section of their account, found in the top right corner of the homepage.

The display name will appear alongside all comments posted, but it can be a pseudonym and need not be the same as the name of the account holder. So a subscriber might choose to be ‘Disgruntled Producer’, ‘World-Weary Commissioner’ or even ‘Optimistic and Upbeat TV Exec’ (unlikely, I know), meaning they can still comment without fear of reprisal.

The change also offers greater transparency for users of the site. For example, readers will have clarity over whether multiple comments are being posted by the same subscriber, either within a specific article or on multiple stories across the site.

Chris Curtis is a great forum for debate and should be a place where people can share honest views without necessarily revealing their identity. But even anonymous comments should be owned. Any step towards transparency is a good thing.

  • Chris Curtis is the editor-in-chief of Broadcast