FX Boss Slams Netflix's Self-Reported Viewership Records: 'They're Not Telling You the Whole Story'

Netflix recently acquired the series YOU from Lifetime, with the Penn Badgley-led thriller arriving on the streaming service in December. It instantly gained a new and widespread audience, and on Jan. 17, Netflix said that the series was on track to be watched by 40 million households in its first four weeks on the platform.

During a presentation at the Television Critics Association press tour on Monday, FX CEO John Landgraf cast doubt on that number, saying that the streaming platform is "not telling you the whole story."

According to TV Guide, Landgraf said that Netflix is not being entirely truthful "because the numbers they issued do not follow the universally understood television metric ... [of] average audience."

Since Netflix counts an account viewing “70 percent of any one episode” as a “view,” the data is “not remotely an accurate representation of longform program performance,” Landgraf added, via TV Line.

Broadcast and cable viewership numbers are based on an average audience over a full season, and with that in mind, Landgraf estimated that YOU's actual viewership is much lower than what Netflix had reported.

“An average audience of 8 million viewers is good,” he explained, “but it’s not as good as 40 million, which would make you the No. 1 show on television.”

"Anyone who read Netflix's statement about YOU would likely assume they were giving an average audience number because that is how scripted television has always been measured," he added.

Netflix previously made headlines after announcing its viewing numbers for its recent original film Bird Box, with the service saying that the movie had the best first seven days ever for a Netflix film, with over 45 million accounts tuning in.

During his presentation, Landgraf also addressed the fact that Netflix has been releasing so much original content, musing that the service is aiming to capitalize on the buzz generated soon after a talked-about series or film arrives on the platform.

"It's just heavily concentrated in the first two weeks that they drop a piece of content, which is why, I think, they're dropping so many pieces of content," he said. "They kind of have to keep putting new content on there continuously. It's unknown yet what the long-tail value of that content will be."


YOU has already been renewed for a second season, which will see Badgley's Joe Goldberg travel to Los Angeles, where he'll meet Love Quinn (Victoria Pedretti), the new object of his obsession. Season one of the show was based on Caroline Kepnes' book of the same name save for one major revelation (spoiler: that Joe's ex-girlfriend, Candace (Ambyr Childers), is alive), and Season 2 will also keep elements from the book while exploring new storylines made possible by Candace's reappearance.

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