Over 100 billion hours of Netflix programmes were viewed in the first six months of 2023. Netflix has released the number of hours viewed for over 18,000 titles watched for more than 50,000 hours, representing 99% of all viewing on Netflix. It has committed to providing the viewing report twice a year.

The most viewed title on Netflix in the first half of 2023 was The Night Agent, released on 23 March, with over 812 million hours viewed over the 10 episodes of the first season. It was previously reported that it clocked up nearly 170 million hours of viewing in the first four days of its release.

With each episode running up to an hour, that is about 80 million hours an episode. Netflix has approaching 250 million subscribers, but each of those subscriptions could represent more than one and possibly several individual viewers.

We have no way of knowing how many individuals watched any particular episode, so the numbers are not really comparable to traditional television ratings, and they are global figure.

Nevertheless, 800 million hours sounds like a lot of viewing. 100 billion hours is certainly a considerable amount viewing over six months in any terms.

It works out at an average of over 15 hours a week per subscriber. Again, that is not hours per individual viewer, so it is not directly comparable to television viewing figures, but it is certainly a significant amount of usage per subscribing household.

100 billion hours viewed globally on Netflix puts into perspective the 737 million hours that were viewed on ITVX in the same period in the United Kingdom. A single series on Netflix was watched more than the entire online output of the largest commercial broadcaster in the country. So it was probably an estimated $30 million well spent and worth a second season.

Yet The Night Agent represented less than 1% of all Netflix viewing. The top 10 titles contributed just under 5% of all Netflix viewing over the six months. The top 50 titles delivered just under 12.5%, or an eighth of all Netflix viewing. All of them were available globally.

That suggests that there is a very long tail of titles, over 18,000 in fact, that contributed the rest of Netflix viewing.

Netflix says that non-English stories generated 30% of all viewing, and it points to the demand for older licensed titles as well as the most popular programmes.

As Netflix says, success is not determined by hours viewed alone. It is all about the size of the audience relative to the economics of the title.

So, ’71, an award-winning independent film from 2014 about the British army in Belfast, which ranked 7830 in the list of titles by viewing, still managed to deliver a million hours of viewing, even though it was not available globally on Netflix.