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Are you a 'completer'? Here's how Netflix ranks viewers in order of engagement

Big Mouth: Season 3
(Image credit: Netflix)
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Ever wondered how the bigwigs at Netflix actually tracked your viewing habits? Well Netflix has given its audience – and the show creators unhappy with Netflix's recent cancellations – a better insight into how the online TV streaming service uses its subscriber data to influence programming decisions.

Netflix uses three categories of views: Starters, Watchers, and Completers. The first of these is people who start episodes or films but don't get further than two minutes through its running time – giving Netflix a good idea of what shows garner the right kind of attention but don't follow through on holding viewer interest beyond the opening moments.

The second, Watchers, are those who watch at least 70%, and can be said to have engaged meaningfully with the content on offer. Completers, on the other hand, are those who have watched at least 90% of a title (who stays for the end credits, after all?). 

Naturally there's no real consequence for viewers on how dedicated they are to their Netflix binges – but what does this mean for the shows that only get started, rather than watched or completed?

State of the union

This information comes in response to a public enquiry by UK Parliament into "public service broadcasting in the age of video on demand", with Netflix sending a written letter (opens in new tab) describing its internal processes, new Top 10 lists for popular content, and how it's attempting to improve relations with its creators.

"Transparency is important to us and in addition to the ‘Top 10’ lists of shows that we publish each week in the UK, we want to help creators understand how their original titles perform once they are released. To this end we recently began to share metrics more consistently with UK directors and producers about their individual shows and films."

Why is this a hot topic? Netflix has been pretty trigger-happy about commissioning shows and films for its platform in the past, and as a result is having to be somewhat cutthroat about what is renewed based on viewer numbers and engagement – hence the categories described above. 

Most recently, the curious cancellation of Bojack Horseman and Tuca & Bertie – both of which are produced by the same studio – sparked speculation about whether Netflix took issue with the unionization of the shows' creative talent (via Digital Spy (opens in new tab)).

Via The Verge (opens in new tab)

Henry is a freelance technology journalist. Before going freelance, he spent more than three years at TechRadar reporting on TVs, projectors and smart speakers as the website's Home Cinema Editor – and has been interviewed live on both BBC World News and Channel News Asia, discussing the future of transport and 4K resolution televisions respectively. As a graduate of English Literature and persistent theatre enthusiast, he'll usually be found forcing Shakespeare puns into his technology articles, which he thinks is what the Bard would have wanted. Bylines also include Edge, T3, and Little White Lies.