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  • Netflix will begin sharing audience viewing figures in the UK, pitting it against the BBC.
  • Viewership figures will be published by UK rating agency BARB from November 1.
  • The move comes alongside the launch of an ad-supported tier and increased regulatory scrutiny.

Netflix’s iron curtain around its viewership is slowly lifting, with the streaming giant signing up to the body that collates TV ratings in the UK.

The ratings agency Broadcasters Audience Research Board (BARB) announced on Wednesday that it will begin reporting Netflix’s streaming performance alongside viewing figures for broadcast TV from November 1. 

Netflix will give viewing figures to the body, allowing it to be compared with UK channels from the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, and satellite broadcaster Sky.

The move comes three years after co-CEO Reed Hastings told the Royal Television Society about his interest in having Netflix join the ratings system. 

In a statement alongside BARB’s announcement, Hastings said: “Back in 2019, at the RTS conference in Cambridge, I welcomed the idea of Netflix audiences being measured independently. We’ve kept in touch with BARB since then and are pleased to make a commitment to its trusted measurement of how people watch television in the UK.”

The move is partly seen as a response to the prospect of UK government regulation for streaming services such as Netflix. It also comes ahead of an ad-supported tier, with advertisers wanting to know many many viewers are watching. Variety reported that the launch had been moved up to November to get ahead of competition from Disney+, which has also signed up with BARB. 

Netflix has closely guarded the audience figures for most of its programs, but does reveal the 10 most popular shows each week by hours viewed. Last week, “Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story” racked up more than 205 million hours of views, more than six times the number for the second most-watched show, “Dynasty.”

In the US, Nielsen has been tracking Netflix shows since 2017 but the data has not been released consistently. 

The UK figures will show the total number of views for Netflix programs, as well as audience share and average daily minutes.

Although the viewing figures won’t be accessible to everyone, as a BARB license costs more than £20,000 ($22,000) a year, the move still represents a major shift toward greater transparency for Netflix.

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