Netflix’s first original series, the acquired Norwegian fish-out-of-water dramedy Lilyhammer starring The Sopranos alum Steven Van Zandt, launched yesterday. How did it do? We may never know as the video streaming is refusing to disclose figures. In a memo, Netflix’s chief content officer Ted Sarandos explains why. While instant viewing is less and less important for most TV networks, especially premium cable ones which, like Netflix, doesn’t rely on commercials, I still think that Netflix should provide cumulative streaming data over time, especially as it paints itself as a viable alternative to pay cable. As for the future of Lilyhammer, it probably doesn’t depend on its performance on Netflix as it launched big in its homeland and reportedly has Netfix already on board to co-produce a second season. Here is Sarandos’ memo:
Many of you have asked us to disclose day-after viewership numbers for our new original series “Lilyhammer,” which Netflix members in the U.S., Canada and Latin America could watch instantly beginning yesterday. Let me explain why we won’t.
We have over 23 million streaming members and they’ll have the opportunity to discover Lilyhammer not just yesterday, today or this week, but over the course of several years. Some members have loved the show so much that they’ve already watched the entire eight-episode first season; we put all the episodes up at once for that reason. Over time, other members will hear about Lilyhammer from their friends or discover it through our recommendation engine, based on the shows and movies they’ve enjoyed in the past.
At Netflix, we are all about giving people choice in the way they enjoy TV shows and movies. They can watch one episode or all eight back-to-back. They can start in the living room on their Smart TV and end in the bedroom on their iPad. We don’t show commercials so we don’t have to deliver audience numbers to advertisers. We do have to deliver a great experience to our members.
We’re confident Lilyhammer will build a sizeable audience on Netflix and we’re excited to be at the forefront of change in the way consumers get their entertainment.