Netflix was anything but chill about NBC supposedly revealing its secret ratings.
Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos blasted NBC at Sunday's Television Critics Association winter previews after the Peacock's research head Alan Wurtzel claimed on Wednesday to have figured out how the streaming service tracks its viewing data with the help of tech company Symphony Advanced Media. The numbers Wurtzel unveiled were not entirely impressive, including 4.8 million viewers for Marvel's Jessica Jones in the adults 18-to-49 demographic and 3.9 million for Master of None.
"There's a couple of mysteries in play for me. One is why would NBC use their lunchtime [panel] to talk about our ratings," Sarandos told reporters Sunday. "Maybe because it's more fun than talking about NBC's ratings. The second is, the whole methodology and the measurement and the data itself doesn't reflect any sense of reality of anything that we keep track of. That could be because 18-to-49-year-old viewing is so insignificant to us. I can't even tell you how many 18-to-49 users we have. We don't track them. It's an advertising-driven demographic that means nothing to us. I don't know why anybody would be spending so much energy and time and given what I believe is remarkably inaccurate data. ... I don't understand the methodology of it. The outputs don't reflect any reality that we track."
Netflix has notoriously kept its viewership close to the vest and that did not change Sunday, as Sarandos — who revealed Netflix will spend $5 billion on content in 2016 — would only vaguely reiterate that he's pleased with the numbers. "The ratings themselves have no specific impact on the business," he said. "If we were spending a lot of money on shows people weren't watching, they will quit. People are finding value in how we're spending our content dollars."
Other highlights from the panel:
Gilmore Girls revival: Sarandos acknowledged that the four-episode miniseries was in the works for the first time, but offered no further details. "I can't tell you much about Gilmore Girls," he said. "We're still working on buttoning down everything before our announcements."
The Marvel franchise: Jessica Jones has been renewed for a second season, but there is no concrete timeline yet for its return. "The Defenders production schedule will determine a lot of the Season 2 and Season 3 outputs of those[Marvel] shows," Sarandos said. "It's a work in progress." Season 2 of Daredevil is will premiere March 18, while the series premieres of Luke Cage and Iron Fist have yet to be scheduled. As for the reported Punisher spin-off, Sarandos said, "We're still on the five original we announced."
Netflix live? Sarandos said Netflix has considered getting into live-streaming programs, like sports and news, but there are no "immediate plans" at the moment. "There's no technological reason not to do live on Netflix, but part of our [consumer proposition] is 'watch what you want when you want,'" he said.
Different release models: Baz Luhrmann's '70s-set disco drama The Get Down, whose 12 episodes will be split into two six-episode blocks, will deviate from Netflix's all-at-once release drop. "Creatively, the show had a natural break in its design that enabled us to split it up," Sarandos said. "Baz Luhrmann productions take a long time and we wanted to give him all the breathing time we could and still give the audience a look at the show." Sarandos did not rule out different release strategies for their new and existing shows. "We will always play with the release models to try to accelerate how quickly we can deliver them and sometimes how to reduce the window of time in between seasons."