Netflix audience data, streaming industry discourse, and the emerging realities of ‘popular’ television

Michael L. Wayne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


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. This analysis concludes with a discussion of streaming audience data that situates in the emerging realities of ‘popular’ television in the context the medium’s broader transformations and continuities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)193-209
Number of pages17
JournalMedia, Culture and Society
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Netflix
  • media industries
  • platforms
  • streaming
  • television
  • video on-demand

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Sociology and Political Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Netflix audience data, streaming industry discourse, and the emerging realities of ‘popular’ television'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this