In this study, Dr. Wayne uses the media industry studies perspective how the discourses surrounding Netflix audience data have changed over time.
Using the media industry studies approach, this article provides a history of the industrial discourses surrounding Netflix’s audience data. From Netflix’s entry into the streaming market in 2007 until late-2018, the company did not publicize information about viewership. During this time, executives’ public discussions of proprietary data are understood in relation to multiple organizational goals: differentiating the streaming platform from the traditional television industry, denigrating traditional television industry practices, and deflecting criticism. In late-2018, the company began selectively publishing viewership numbers for a small number of original titles to highlight the popularity of the platform’s original content. Although the company maintains its anti-transparency policies, the shift toward selective data releases has significant implications regarding Netflix’s relationship with the traditional television industry. The article will be published in the journal Media, Culture & Society and is currently available Online First.