|From: Glenn Petersen||10/8/2021 6:32:39 AM|
|Netflix’s ‘Squid Game’ Is the Dystopian Hit No One Wanted—Until Everyone Did|
The South Korean survival drama that for a decade was dismissed as grotesque and unrealistic is on track to become Netflix’s most-watched show
By Dasl Yoon and Timothy W. Martin
Wall Street Journal
Updated Oct. 4, 2021 9:35 pm ET
‘Squid Game’ has hit No. 1 in more than 90 countries, including the U.S. PHOTO: NETFLIX
SEOUL—South Korea’s dystopian drama “Squid Game” might become Netflix Inc.’s NFLX -1.13% biggest hit ever. But for a decade, local studios rejected the fictionalized show’s pitch as too grotesque and too unrealistic.
The premise revolves around financially broke adults playing traditional Korean children’s games on a secluded island. The losers die. A single winner emerges with a cash prize of about $40 million.
Now “Squid Game,” which made its debut Sept. 17, is a global phenomenon. TikTok videos of people replicating the children’s games have gone viral, while online retailers are rushing to sell “Squid Game” Halloween costumes. The show has hit No. 1 in more than 90 countries, including the U.S.—a surprise even to Netflix executives.
By every metric, the Korean survival drama is on pace to surpass Netflix’s current record holders—“Bridgerton” and “Lupin”—in the total volume of hours watched and the number of subscribers who have tuned into the show for at least two minutes, said Minyoung Kim, who oversees the company’s creative activities in the Asia-Pacific region except for India.
“It’s still trending up,” Ms. Kim said. “We’ve never seen anything grow as fast and aggressive as ‘Squid Game.’”
Despite its sudden success, “Squid Game” represents a payoff from Netflix’s multiyear bet on South Korean content. The U.S. streaming giant invested about $700 million for Korean films and television shows from 2015 to 2020, the company says. This year alone, Netflix plans to spend half a billion dollars.
That compares with about $400 million earmarked for India content in 2019 and 2020, and the roughly $17 billion Netflix is spending on content world-wide this year.
The popularity of “Squid Game” comes as Netflix faces unprecedented competition, with rival streaming services seeking original hits that can grab eyeballs across continents to distinguish their offerings.
“Squid Game” creator Hwang Dong-hyuk came up with the idea for the show more than a decade ago, while living with his mother and grandmother. He had to stop writing the script at one point: He was forced to sell his $675 laptop for cash.
With a potential language barrier, Netflix emphasized visuals in the costumes and sets of ‘Squid Game.’ PHOTO: NETFLIX
Back then, potential investors and actors bristled at the brutal killings and implausibility of individuals competing to the death for money. But two years ago, Netflix thought the class struggles outlined in “Squid Game” spoke to reality.
When the Covid-19 pandemic hit the global economy, it exacerbated the disparity between the rich and the poor, said the 50-year-old Mr. Hwang. Even vaccine rollouts vary greatly based on whether a country is wealthy or not, he said.
“The world has changed,” Mr. Hwang said. “All of these points made the story very realistic for people compared to a decade ago.”
Buzz built quickly. The Netflix trailer for “Squid Game” on YouTube has already amassed more than 18 million views—more than triple that of “Bridgerton” or “Lupin.”
South Koreans have celebrated the milestone of “Squid Game” becoming the country’s first show to hit Netflix’s top spot in the U.S. and globally. Local media have labeled it the next “Parasite,” the Oscar-winning film. References to the show have even entered South Korea’s presidential election race, with some candidates making parody posters or challenging each other to “Squid Game”-like competitions.
“I was surprised to hear the show did so well outside of Korea and thought maybe the popularity of K-pop made more people interested in Korean content,” said 27-year-old Kwon Se-un, a cafe worker. “The merciless killings were attention grabbing and the range of different characters made it interesting.”
“Squid Game” went through some primping to become a global megahit. With a potential language barrier, Netflix emphasized visuals, outfitting competitors in green tracksuits and building colorful sets resembling children’s playgrounds. Some of the rules for the traditional Korean games were simplified or altered.
Many Americans also enjoy watching foreign shows with English-language dubbing, rather than subtitles—a choice that Netflix’s algorithms can automatically select for users based on their past viewing.
Korean dramas have long had a large fan base across Asia and have been seen in Europe, Latin America and the U.S. through other streaming services such as Viki Inc. and the now-defunct DramaFever Corp. But those rivals didn’t produce much big-budget, original content or boast the streaming reach of Netflix, which began its South Korean efforts in 2016.
Since then, Netflix has introduced about 80 Korean films and series, and U.S. viewing of K-dramas has doubled in the past two years, Netflix said.
‘Squid Game’ has universal appeal, says Netflix’s Minyoung Kim, because it poses a simple moral question: ‘Who are we?’ PHOTO: NETFLIX
Previous Korean hits, available on Netflix and elsewhere, typically center on boy-meets-girl love stories or Cinderella-esque tales of the wicked elites—and often weave in both. Some of Netflix’s prior K-drama successes followed that playbook, including “Crash Landing on You,” a 2019 show in which a South Korean heiress lands in North Korea during a paragliding accident.
But more recent shows began to break the mold, winning broader audiences than the K-drama die-hards. For instance, “Sweet Home,” an apocalyptic suspense series released last year, reached No. 3 on Netflix in the U.S.
About 95% of “Squid Game” viewers are outside South Korea. It has been subtitled in 31 languages and dubbed in 13, Netflix said.
Netflix’s Ms. Kim said that the show, though very Korean, has more universal appeal because it poses a simple moral question: “Who are we?”
“We are not horses, we’re all humans,” she said. “That is the question the show really wants to throw at you.”
Brittany Chang, a 22-year-old university student in Singapore, had never watched a Korean drama, but urged by friends—and Netflix’s suggestions—she watched the trailer and wondered why the desperate contestants turned on each other. “Squid Game” reminded her of “The Hunger Games,” another brutal survival tale.
“I watched the entire series in one sitting,” she said.
“Squid Game” is a story of underdogs, relatable for people who struggle, that resonates with younger audiences, much like how the K-pop band BTS became a voice for millennials, said Suk-Young Kim, head of theater and performance studies at the University of California, Los Angeles.
“Korea is no longer an exotic site where only a certain dedicated fandom culture exists,” said Prof. Kim, who has written a book about South Korea’s music industry. “It’s a major cultural hub with rising prominence in Hollywood and on Billboard charts.”
Write to Dasl Yoon at firstname.lastname@example.org and Timothy W. Martin at email@example.com
Copyright ©2021 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8
Appeared in the October 4, 2021, print edition as 'Netflix Sees Hit in Unwanted ‘Squid Game’.'
Netflix’s ‘Squid Game’ Is the Dystopian Hit No One Wanted—Until Everyone Did - WSJ
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|To: Glenn Petersen who wrote (2068)||10/11/2021 5:39:12 AM|
|From: Glenn Petersen|
|Netflix to Sell ‘Squid Game’ Goods, Other Products on Walmart Site|
The ‘Netflix Hub’ for consumer merchandise is part of the streaming company’s broader effort to diversify revenue and market its content
By Joe Flint
Wall Street Journal
Oct. 11, 2021 1:01 am ET
The Netflix hit ‘Squid Game’ will be among the shows that the company taps as a source of merchandise for the digital store. PHOTO: YOUNGKYU PARK/NETFLIX
Netflix Inc. NFLX 0.13% is teaming up with Walmart Inc. WMT 0.30% to create a digital storefront on the retailer’s website that will sell merchandise tied to hit shows such as “Stranger Things” and “Squid Game,” the companies said.
The partnership is part of Netflix’s broader strategy to develop new revenue streams beyond its core subscription business and market its content away from its own platform.
Netflix consumer products, from T-shirts to stickers to dolls, are already available online from several retailers. The deal with Walmart creates a dedicated area of Walmart.com for Netflix merchandise, the Netflix Hub—the first such online storefront that Netflix has created with a national retailer. Netflix also has its own online store, Netflix.shop.
“We want to continue to meet fans wherever they are, whether that’s through our biggest online marketplace at Walmart, or the more boutique and curated Netflix.shop,” said Josh Simon, Netflix’s vice president of consumer products.
Mr. Simon said revenue won’t be the only measuring stick of success for the venture. “The real value is in reinforcing fan love for the shows and films they see on Netflix,” he said.
Netflix licenses its intellectual properties to manufacturers, who create the merchandise. Netflix also gets a percentage of the manufacturer’s sales to retailers, a person familiar with the matter said.
Netflix-themed merchandise includes “Squid Game” T-shirts, “Nailed It!” baking kits and a “Stranger Things” Bluetooth cassette player. The company doesn’t disclose the size of its emerging e-commerce business.
Netflix is the world’s biggest streaming service, with more than 200 million subscribers world-wide. But growth has slowed, particularly in the U.S. Netflix faces increasing competition from rivals including Walt Disney Co. ’s Disney+ and Amazon.com Inc.’s Prime Video.
Netflix is also entering the videogame space as it tries to attract new customers and keep existing subscribers on its platform for longer periods.
Netflix’s product lineup also includes items tied to the show ‘Stranger Things.’ PHOTO: NETFLIX
Netflix Chairman and Co-Chief Executive Reed Hastings has said he doesn’t expect new business lines such as e-commerce and videogames to be significant revenue generators.
“It’s enhancing the big service that we have,” Mr. Hastings said on a recent call with Wall Street analysts, adding that the goal is to help build interest in the company’s major titles. “The reason we’re doing them is to help the subscription service grow and be more important in people’s lives.”
Walmart Executive Vice President Jeff Evans said the partnership is an opportunity for the retailer to connect with the Netflix fan base and potentially attract new customers.
Associating with more upscale brands has become a priority for Walmart. Earlier this year, it unveiled a partnership with Gap Inc. to sell Gap-branded home goods in its store. It has also launched a series of higher-end fashion lines.
Write to Joe Flint at firstname.lastname@example.org
Netflix to Sell ‘Squid Game’ Goods, Other Products on Walmart Site - WSJ
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|From: Sr K||10/14/2021 1:15:58 AM|
|Netflix Employee Group Calls for Walkout Amid Tensions Over Dave Chappelle Show|
Streaming giant stands by special that some staff said was offensive to transgender community; ‘There will always be content on Netflix some people believe is harmful’
Dave Chappelle’s Netflix show ‘The Closer’ is currently among the most-watched programs on the service in the U.S.PHOTO: MATHIEU BITTON/NETFLIX
Oct. 13, 2021 7:53 pm ET
Tensions are rising inside Netflix Inc. NFLX 0.77% over a Dave Chappelle stand-up special that some employees said was offensive to the transgender community, the latest clash between the streaming giant’s radical-candor culture and its embrace of creative freedom.
A Netflix transgender-employee group is encouraging staff to stage a walkout next Wednesday to protest Co-Chief Executive and Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos’s recent defense of Mr. Chappelle’s special. The plans for a walkout were earlier reported by the Verge and confirmed by Netflix.
In “The Closer,” which was released last week and is currently among the most-watched programs on the service in the U.S., Mr. Chappelle said “gender is a fact” and said he identified as a “TERF,” an acronym that stands for “trans-exclusionary radical feminist.” Mr. Chappelle said he isn’t a favorite of the trans community, then added, “Someone told me, ‘They after you, Dave,’ and I said, ‘One they or many theys?’ ”
A day after the special’s release, Terra Field, a Netflix software engineer who is transgender, criticized the show on Twitter, saying Mr. Chappelle attacked “the trans community, and the very validity of transness.” The tweets went viral and led to a backlash inside the streaming giant over the special. Groups including LGBTQ-rights advocacy group GLAAD spoke up against the show, and the National Black Justice Coalition asked for Netflix to take the special off its platform.
On Monday, Mr. Sarandos issued a companywide email defending the special and saying the service wouldn’t pull it down. Mr. Sarandos said the company works hard to support creative freedom and this means “there will always be content on Netflix some people believe is harmful.” He also said he didn’t think the special incites hate or violence. Mr. Chappelle has a longstanding relationship with Netflix, having made multiple specials for the streaming service. In the end credits of “The Closer,” there is a picture of Messrs. Chappelle and Sarandos laughing together.
Addressing the criticism during an event in Hollywood last week, Mr. Chappelle said, “If this is what being canceled is like, I love it.”
Netflix said Ms. Field wasn’t punished for her tweets, but she and two other employees got into hot water at Netflix when they attended an online meeting of senior Netflix executives last week without permission.
The trio was suspended but promptly reinstated, according to Netflix. Ms. Field said Netflix told her it appeared there was no ill intent on her part and that she was unaware that the meeting was only for senior staffers at the company, according to a tweet from Ms. Field. Netflix confirmed that account.
Netflix stands in contrast to traditional studios and networks, where it is rare for employees to question content decisions—much less take to social media to negatively criticize those choices. At Netflix, radical candor and transparency are encouraged within the company’s hallways and meetings.
Among programmers, Netflix has stood out when it comes to carrying shows featuring transgender performers, including “Sense8,” “Orange Is the New Black,” “Sex Education” and “Control Z.” It also has a development deal with transgender producer Janet Mock.
This isn’t the first time a Chappelle special has caused anger inside Netflix. His previous stand-up special, “Sticks and Stones,” which also included commentary on the LGBTQ community, was found by some inside the company as offensive, according to people familiar with the matter.
Last year, a sex-filled movie called “365 Days” that was popular on the platform made some inside the company uncomfortable, as did the movie “Cuties,” which was accused of sexually exploiting young girls, the people said.
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|To: Glenn Petersen who wrote (2068)||10/17/2021 3:48:30 AM|
|From: Glenn Petersen|
|‘Squid Game’ officially had the biggest Netflix original launch ever|
By Jacob Siegal
October 13th, 2021 at 2:57 PM
The legend of Netflix’s new series Squid Game continues to grow in the days following its release. On Tuesday, Netflix Geeked on Twitter announced that 111 million global accounts have started watching Squid Game. This makes the South Korean thriller the first Netflix original series to surpass 100 million viewers during its launch window. Notably, it only took Squid Game 17 days to reach such a milestone. Netflix typically measures a show’s launch window as its first 28 days on the service.
Squid Game has Netflix’s biggest launch ever
Netflix recently revealed its top 10 original series of all time during the 2021 Code conference. Keep in mind that these figures below represent the number of accounts that watched at least two minutes of any episode within the show’s first 28 days on the streaming service:
1. Bridgerton Season 1: 82 million accounts
2. Lupin Part 1: 76 million accounts
3. The Witcher Season 1: 76 million accounts
4. Sex/Life Season 1: 67 million accounts
5. Stranger Things 3: 67 million accounts
6. Money Heist Part 4: 65 million accounts
7. Tiger King Season 1: 64 million accounts
8. The Queen’s Gambit: 62 million accounts
9. Sweet Tooth Season 1: 60 million accounts
10. Emily in Paris Season 1: 58 million accounts
As you can see, Squid Game blew all of these shows out of the water. In fact, it seemingly took around two weeks for the show to break the record. Squid Game started streaming on September 17th, which means it’s still only been on Netflix for 26 days. There’s no telling how many more subscribers have spent at least two minutes watching the show in the past nine days.
Despite being a foreign-language series that arrived without much fanfare, Squid Game is going to go down as the biggest Netflix original in the service’s history. A Netflix spokesperson told The Verge that the series has reached the number one spot on the top 10 list in 94 countries. That’s every country in which Netflix features a top 10 list. Squid Game has also topped the list in the US for 21 days straight. That’s the longest any foreign-language show has ever stayed in that position.
“Before, with older media, when one country’s filmmaker wanted to go to bring their film to another country, there were a lot of barriers with time and language,” Squid Game writer and director Hwang Dong-hyuk told IndieWire. “For example, if it’s a Korean movie venturing into the U.S. market, we had to go to the film festivals and find a distributor in the U.S. But now we have streaming services and YouTube, so we have the infrastructure to go global in everything that we make. I think now if there’s good content, the global audience is just waiting to watch it. I think ‘Squid Game’ is proof that this is possible. The only possible problem that’s left could be the language barrier, but I think people are warming up to that, as well.”
'Squid Game' officially had the biggest Netflix original launch ever (bgr.com)
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|From: Zen Dollar Round||10/17/2021 10:12:03 AM|
| Netflix's 'Squid Game' Will Generate $900 Million for Company: Report|
- "Squid Game" will generate just under $900 million in value for Netflix, internal documents show.
- Bloomberg reported that the documents said the series was watched by a record 132 million people.
- "Squid Game" cost around $2.4 million an episode, far less than "The Crown" and "Stranger Things."
Netflix's hugely popular TV show "Squid Game" will generate just shy of $900 million in value for the company, according to internal documents seen by Bloomberg.
The documents also revealed that "Squid Game" cost $21.4 million to produce. At around $2.4 million an episode, that's considerably cheaper than some of Netflix's other big shows.
"Squid Game" has become a global smash hit and Netflix's most-watched original show, with 132 million people watching at least two minutes. That far outstrips the previous record holder, Bridgerton, which was seen by 82 million people.
The South Korean TV show is about a brutal contest in which highly indebted people compete to win a huge cash prize. The contestants play a number of kids games — but get killed if they lose.
Internal Netflix documents seen by Bloomberg said the show generated $891 million in "impact value." That's the metric that Netflix, which operates a subscription model, uses to gauge the financial importance of shows. It suggests "Squid Game" will suck in a large number of subscribers.
At around $2.4 million an episode, Netflix is getting a very good return on its investment. "The Crown" and "Stranger Things" cost around $13 million and $12 million per episode, respectively.
The streaming giant thinks 89% of people who started "Squid Game" watched at least 75 minutes, according to Bloomberg. It thinks 66% of viewers — or 87 million people — finished the series in the first 23 days of it being online.
Netflix did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But an attorney representing the streaming service told Bloomberg: "??Netflix does not discuss these metrics outside the company."
Netflix reaped rewards from the pandemic in 2020, as people locked down in their homes binged on shows such as "Tiger King." But 2021 has been more difficult for the company as governments lifted restrictions and people have found other things to do than watch TV.
Yet, the financial markets have warmed to Netflix in recent weeks, largely due to the success of "Squid Game." Shares are up more than 6% over the last month. The company is due to report its third-quarter earnings on Tuesday.
"As always, the key number we'll be watching out is for subscriber growth," said Sophie Lund-Yates, equity analyst at broker Hargreaves Lansdown.
"The group's ability to pump out big-hitting content like 'Squid Game' may well be moving the dial on this front, but we do wonder what the reopening of the world will have meant for growth."
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|From: Sr K||10/19/2021 11:42:53 PM|
Netflix Reports Jump in Users, Calls ‘Squid Game’ Its Most Popular Show Ever
Streaming service adds roughly 4.4 million subscribers amid increased competition and the typical summer slowdown
A scene from the popular Netflix series ‘Squid Game,’ which Netflix says is the No. 1 program in 94 countries.PHOTO: YOUNGKYU PARK/NETFLIX/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Updated Oct. 19, 2021 7:20 pm ET
Netflix Inc. NFLX 0.16% added 4.4 million memberships in the third quarter, more than the company had forecast, as viewers flocked to the streaming platform with the return of popular series and new hits such as “ Squid Game.”
The new additions bring Netflix’s total paid global subscriber base to 213.6 million. The company had forecast that it would add 3.5 million memberships in the three-month period.
Typically, the summer months tend to be slower in regards to subscriber additions. In last year’s third quarter, Netflix added 2.2 million subscribers, just missing expectations. At that time, the company said the big gains in subscribers it had seen during the Covid-19 lockdown were beginning to wane.
In recent weeks, Netflix has benefited from the success of “Squid Game,” the South Korean dystopian drama that made its debut on Sept. 17 and quickly became a global phenomenon. The series has gone viral with social platforms like TikTok showing videos of people replicating the children’s games, while online retailers are rushing to sell “Squid Game” Halloween costumes.
In its letter to investors, Netflix said “Squid Game” has become its most popular show ever, with 142 million households sampling the title. It is the No. 1 program in 94 countries, it said.
Noting that “Squid Game” creator Hwang Dong-hyuk had tried for several years to get the show made before Netflix grabbed it, Co-Chief Executive and Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos said, “Our team recognized something no one else did and created an environment for that creator to make a great show.”
Movies that performed well include “Sweet Girl” starring Jason Momoa and “The Kissing Booth 3,” the company said.
Netflix is also projecting a strong fourth quarter in terms of content with the return of the dark drama “You” and “Cobra Kai,” the popular series that is a sequel of sorts to the “Karate Kid” movie franchise. The major movies Netflix will drop in the coming months include “Red Notice” with Dwayne Johnson, Ryan Reynolds and Gal Gadot and the Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence film “Don’t Look Up.”
“We have so much content coming in Q4 like we’ve never had,” said Netflix Chairman and Co-CEO Reed Hastings, who was sporting a “Squid Game” warm-up jacket during the company’s video call to discuss its results.
The Asia Pacific region was among the company’s strongest in terms of new members, responsible for half of the additions in the quarter, adding 2.2 million subscribers to the total tally.
Netflix is projecting a strong fourth quarter in terms of content with the return of the dark drama ‘You.’PHOTO: NETFLIX
In the U.S. and Canada, Netflix ended the third quarter with 74.02 million subscribers, an improvement of 73,000 from the end of the second quarter. Competition in the U.S. in particular has grown rapidly over the past few years as rivals including Walt Disney Co. DIS 0.02% ’s Disney+, AT&T Inc.’s T 1.03% HBOMax and Amazon.com Inc.’s AMZN -0.08% Prime Video continue to make inroads.
Netflix also said it would change how it discloses viewership information. It currently reports on the number of accounts that watched at least two minutes of a show. Going forward, it will instead pivot to hours viewed for its titles.
Netflix earlier this year said it would make its own videogames, part of an effort to expand into new revenue streams. The company said the games would be made for mobile devices, and some of them may feature characters from Netflix shows and movies. The games will be included at no extra cost to Netflix members.
“We’ve begun testing our games offering in select countries,” Netflix said in its shareholder letter. “It remains very early days for this initiative and, like other content categories we’ve expanded into, we plan to try different types of games, learn from our members and improve our game library.”
In the third quarter, Netflix acquired videogame company Night School Studio, whose products include “Oxenfree.” Netflix said the purchase will help it build its development capabilities.
Earlier this month, Netflix also teamed up with Walmart Inc. WMT 2.12% to create a digital storefront on the retailer’s website that will sell merchandise tied to hit shows such as “Stranger Things” and “Squid Game.” The deal with Walmart creates a dedicated area of Walmart.com for Netflix merchandise, the Netflix, marking the first such online storefront that Netflix has created with a national retailer.
Netflix has also expanded its exclusive content with the purchase of the Road Dahl catalog, adding popular titles such as “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “Matilda” to its stable.
While Netflix is benefiting from the popularity of its programming, one of its new pieces of original content has created headaches internally.
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|From: Glenn Petersen||11/10/2021 2:52:59 AM|
|Good news for NFLX:|
‘Squid Game’ Is Coming Back for Season Two, Creator Says
Hwang Dong-hyuk says there’s demand for another season following the show’s success; date isn’t yet set
By Joseph Pisani
Wall Street Journal
Nov. 9, 2021 6:16 pm ET
Netflix says ‘Squid Game’ is its most popular show ever. PHOTO: YOUNGKYU PARK/ASSOCIATED PRESS
A second season of Netflix Inc.’s NFLX 0.70% popular series, “Squid Game,” is in the works, according to the show’s creator.
Hwang Dong-hyuk, who wrote and directed the South Korean dystopian drama, told the Associated Press he’s planning a second season in his head, but that it was too early to say when it will come.
A Netflix spokeswoman said Tuesday that a second season is in discussions but hasn’t been confirmed yet.
“Squid Game,” whose premise revolves around financially broke adults playing deadly Korean children’s games in the hopes of a cash prize, has become a cultural phenomenon less than two months after its debut on the streaming service.
Netflix said the show is its most popular ever. TikTok videos of people replicating the children’s games have gone viral. The series has even helped boost sales of white slip-on shoes, like the ones worn on the show. It was also a source of inspiration for Halloween costumes around the world this year, though some school districts banned outfits related to the show, worrying about violent messages that they might portray.
Mr. Hwang said in the AP interview that there has been a lot of pressure and demand for a second season because of the show’s success.
Write to Joseph Pisani at email@example.com
‘Squid Game’ Is Coming Back for Season Two, Creator Says - WSJ
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|From: Sr K||11/16/2021 5:32:35 PM|
Netflix Changes How It Ranks Its Most Popular Shows
Streaming service will release weekly top 10 of shows by total hours viewed, dropping much-criticized two-minute metric
‘Red Notice,’ starring Dwayne Johnson, was the most-watched film on Netflix from Nov. 8 to Nov. 14, with 148.7 million hours of viewing.PHOTO: NETFLIX/COURTESY EVERETT COLLECTION
Nov. 16, 2021 3:00 pm ET
Netflix Inc. NFLX 1.19% is changing how it measures viewership of its content, a move that the streaming company said will provide more clarity when it comes to judging the popularity of programming on its platform.
Starting Tuesday, Netflix will now rank its titles by the total number of hours viewed, the company said. Previously, Netflix measured a program’s viewership based on the number of subscribers who watch at least two minutes of it, an approach that critics felt was too low a bar to measure the popularity of a program.
The streaming service also said it would release viewership data weekly. Such information used to be primarily released during Netflix’s quarterly earnings reports.
The move comes as a response to criticism that Netflix isn’t transparent enough with consumers, investors and its own producers when it comes to providing viewership information. Netflix has often said that because it doesn’t sell advertisements in its programming, it doesn’t need to be tied to the traditional measurement standards of commercial television.
With the streaming landscape becoming increasingly cluttered, Netflix is now competing for viewers and creative talent with deep-pocketed competitors including Walt Disney Co. , Apple Inc. and Amazon.com Inc.
Netflix said that between Nov. 8 and Nov. 14, its most-watched film was “Red Notice,” a movie starring Dwayne Johnson, Gal Gadot and Ryan Reynolds that garnered 148.7 million hours of viewing since Friday, when it was released on the streaming service. The most popular TV show that week was “Narcos: Mexico,” with 50.3 million hours viewed, Netflix said.
Netflix alluded to past criticism of its measurement metrics in a company blog post announcing the change written by Pablo Perez De Rosso, the company’s vice president of content strategy, planning and analysis.
‘Squid Game,’ released in September, was a huge hit for Netflix.PHOTO: WANG YILIANG/ZUMA PRESS
“Nonsense. BS. Cherry Picked. Unaudited. We’ve had a lot of feedback about our metrics over the years. So this summer, we went back to the drawing board,” Mr. Perez De Rosso wrote. The hours consumed approach, he said, will better reflect not only popularity, but also “overall member satisfaction, which is important for retention in subscription services.”
The company had telegraphed the change in its third-quarter letter to shareholders last month, when it said “engagement as measured by hours viewed is a slightly better indicator of the overall success of our titles and member satisfaction.”
The rankings will also be on the home page of Netflix, a move the streamer hopes will serve as a word-of-mouth form of promotion. Netflix said it has retained the accounting firm EY to review the new metrics and issue a report on their effect, which will be published next year.
What the new approach won’t include is how many subscribers watched a particular piece of content.
The two-minute methodology and its predecessor—which reported viewing of a title based on 70% consumption of a movie or an episode of a series—both provided the number of subscriber homes.
Netflix said it would publish four weekly global top-10 lists of films and TV in English and non-English languages ranked by hours viewing per-title. It will also release top-10 lists for more than 90 countries.
“This is an important step forward for Netflix, the creators we work with and our members,” Mr. Perez De Rosso wrote. “People want to understand what success means in a streaming world, and these lists offer the clearest answer to that question in our industry.”
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