Sex Education

In reporting its fourth-quarter earnings Thursday, Netflix offered numbers that are far harder to come by: viewership stats for six of its newest series, including You, Sex Education and Elite.

No third party measures streaming audiences globally as, say, Nielsen does in the U.S. Netflix zealously guards its data and has steadfastly refused to provide the kinds of ratings updates that its linear competitors do, even those not obligated to advertisers. Even so, the streaming giant opted to volunteer that You and Sex Education have each been seen by more than 40 million households in their initial weeks. Spanish series Elite has been seen by more than 20 million households, the company said.

Netflix considers an episode as “viewed” if at least one episode has been watched at least 70% of the way through.

The fact that these three high achievers are not wholly original shows, but rather acquisitions, makes their quick adoption all the more noteworthy. You, as U.S. audiences will recall, began life as a Lifetime series but never found its footing.

With Elite, as with other properties on Netflix, the vast streaming audience of 139 million global members has transformed the profiles of its young cast. Each of their Instagram followings growing from the tens of thousands to north of 1 million since the launch of the show, the company said, illustrating it in a chart along with its financial results.

International co-productions Bodyguard, Baby and The Protector have each been viewed by more than 10 million, the company added. Along with the series numbers, the company also said Bird Box has been seen by 80 million homes in its first four weeks.

In his quarterly letter to investors, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings also noted that the company’s inroads with originals are making it “less focused” on second-run programming. That issue flared up in December when Netflix and WarnerMedia jousted over Friends, eventually settling on a one-year extension of the license for a reported $100 million.

In unscripted, Hastings said, viewership of original titles has eclipsed viewership of acquired titles after just two years of the company getting into that sector. That is the paradigm the company is aiming for overall, especially as Disney, WarnerMedia and NBCUniversal all ramp up their own competing streaming efforts.

Given the company’s programming war chest that reportedly exceeds $12 billion a year, Hastings wrote, “We are ready to pay top-of-market prices for second-run content when studios, networks and producers are willing to sell, but are also prepared to keep our members ecstatic with our incredible original content if others choose to retain their content for their own services.”