Netflix had the seventh most viewed programme in the United Kingdom in the first week of 2024. Episodes of Fool Me Once, produced by ITV Studios, accounted for four of the top 20 most watched programmes and eight of the top 50. With over 260 million subscribers worldwide, Netflix shows that it is a force to be reckoned with.
Based on BARB figures and only accounting for viewing on television, the opening episode of Fool Me Once on Netflix had an estimated audience of 6.34 million over the first week of 2024. That was only slightly less than the top programme on the BBC, which was Call the Midwife, and more than the top episode of The Traitors. ITV took the top five slots, with four of them taken by its factual drama Mr Bates vs the Post Office.
All eight episodes of the Netflix show were in the top 50 programmes of the week, ranging in descending episode order down to an estimated audience of 3.55 million for episode 8. They were all watched by more people than programmes on any channel other than BBC One and ITV.
The drama series was set in Manchester and produced by Quay Street Productions, a subsidiary of ITV Studios. In other words, it was very much a British drama, albeit adapted from an American novel of the same name by Harlan Coben.
The appearance of a Netflix programme in the top 10 was unusual. There were no Netflix programmes in the top 50 the following week.
Netflix accounted for 9% of all viewing in the United Kingdom in December 2023, which was more than all other online services combined, except for YouTube, which together with other video sharing services represented 19% of all viewing.
Netflix added 13.12 million subscribers in the fourth quarter of 2023, with a total of 260.28 million paying subscribers. It was the second highest quarterly subscriber addition, which was attributed in part to a crackdown on account sharing. Over the year, Netflix added 29.53 million subscribers, with over 40% of the additions coming from the Europe, Middle East and Africa region.
The company has withdrawn its basic tier for new customers in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. It will remove the tier in those markets later in the year and promote its advertising supported offering as the entry level.
That increases the strategic challenge for commercial broadcasters like ITV. It might celebrate the success of its ITV Studios business selling a successful drama to Netflix, reducing its reliance on net advertising revenue. Yet it is driving viewers to a competitor that is competing not only for the attention of audiences but also for advertising, at the expense of its own ITVX online offering.