Netflix says it has 10% of all TV time in the US and discloses some colossal numbers for its shows

Key Points
  • Netflix raised the veil on some of its viewership numbers for hits such as "Bird Box" in its fourth-quarter 2018 earnings letter.
  • The numbers still give limited visibility into the content's performance since it is only broken down by member households that watched, rather than individual viewers.
  • Netflix said the technology created for its first interactive movie will be used for future projects as well.
Netflix Co-founder, Chairman & CEO Reed Hastings attends Q&A during Transatlantic Forum as part of Series Mania Lille Hauts de France festival on May 3, 2018 in Lille, France.
Sylvain Lefevre | Getty Images

Netflix lifted the veil on some of its viewership numbers for top-performing content such as "Bird Box."

Though the company has typically omitted these numbers, it disclosed how some of its shows are performing in its fourth-quarter 2018 earnings report on Thursday.

While the numbers paint a slightly clearer picture of Netflix's viewership, it still doesn't show exactly how many people have viewed the content, as it reported these numbers based on "member households," which leaves room for ambiguity since subscribers often share accounts.

Overall, Netflix said it serves about 100 million hours of video per day, earning an estimated 10 percent of all time spent in front of the TV in the U.S.

Netflix said its hit of the season, "Bird Box," featuring Sandra Bullock and inspiring countless memes, reached 80 million member households in its first four weeks on the streaming service.

By way of comparison, during the week of Jan. 7, the top TV show was an NFL playoff game between the Los Angeles Rams and Dallas Cowboys on Saturday, Jan. 12, which drew 33 million viewers, according to Nielsen. The top scripted show, "The Big Bang Theory," drew over 13 million.

"One thing this quarter that's been incredibly exciting [is] when you see a big number like 'Bird Box' and 'You'," Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos said during the company's earnings interview. "These shows are playing incredibly globally. So it's an interesting thing when you can tap into the global zeitgeist with something, which gets me very excited about the potential scale of the content business."

But Netflix does not view TV as its only competition. In its earnings note, it also said games such as Fortnite compete for attention. Fortnite reportedly draws 200 million players per week.

The company also highlighted several of its international projects. Netflix said its original from Spain, "Elite," was watched by over 20 million member households worldwide in the first four weeks. "Bodyguard," co-produced with BBC One; "Baby," an original series from Italy, and "Protector," an original series from Turkey, all reached more than 10 million member households in their first four weeks, the company said.

There was still one notable hit that Netflix didn't disclose numbers for: "Black Mirror: Bandersnatch." Instead, the company discussed in its earnings letter that the technology used to create the movie, its first interactive choose-your-own-adventure-style flick, will be used for interactive projects in the future.

Correction: This story has been revised to reflect the correct date and teams of the most-watched football game during the week of Jan. 7.

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Watch: Netflix shares drops on mixed fourth-quarter earnings

Netflix shares drop on mixed fourth-quarter earnings