The streamer’s famously opaque strategy of keeping data strictly for in-house usage has begun to soften recently. This week, Netflix said it would begin to release lists of the top-10 most watched titles each day across all territories, giving the public a clearer idea of what shows are popular. The streamer does not specify exactly how it arrives at its figures.
“We’re super excited about testing out the idea of the top tens,” said Rachel Eggebeen, director of international originals at Netflix, on stage. “It’s fantastic for our local-language programming because often those shows are in the top ten.”
The five producers/series creators on the panel were: Jantje Friese (Dark), Laura Buffoni (Luna Nera), Meta Soerensen (Ragnaroek), Fatima Varhos (Quicksand), and Anna Winger (Unorthodox).
In a positive-leaning discussion, the quintet discussed working with the streamer in Europe, describing a fairly high-pressure but supportive and ambitious environment. They primarily work with Amsterdam-based Eggebeen, who is focusing on the German market, as well as Teresa Moneo, the London-based director of international original film.
“It’s a very close personal collaboration [and they are] very involved throughout the process. There are a lot of notes but it’s not more unpleasant than other broadcasters I’ve met,” commented Soerensen.
The panel also discussed how Netflix has been sharing some information on the performance of its content with producers to date, with Friese saying that releasing the first series of Dark was “horrible” while they waited to see if it would find a viewership, but ultimately thrilling once they started to be fed back numbers.
The producers did not specify exactly what kind of data Netflix had disclosed to them, but the typical understanding in the biz has been that the streamer is choosey with what figures it provides, and doesn’t tend to share a fully transparent picture.
On the panel, Eggebeen suggested this strategy could evolve, “We’ve been starting to share more data with our producers and that will absolutely continue.”
The speakers also discussed diverse programming, which Netflix says is a priority for its commissioning. The panel itself was all-female, though also all-white.
“We are committed to widening the pool,” commented Eggebeen. “We’re super committed to diversity, bringing storytellers to the table who may not have had that opportunity.”
The Netflix exec also discussed the streamer’s in-house work culture, and how that is adapting to fit European producers.
“Through the process of making many series all over the world we’ve learned a lot,” she said. “[The Netflix environment] is not for everyone, it’s a fast pace that we work at. Once we commission a show we commit to it, we’re all in. The decisiveness of that is a very positive thing, the execution of the day to day can be stressful and hard but we work together to try to make it the best experience.”
Danish producer Soerensen highlighted the differences in work culture between the U.S. and Europe (the amount of annual holiday, for example), saying the culture clash could be a “challenge” but that ultimately any company that wants to work with the best filmmakers has to provide those people with the most agreeable situations.
Friese highlighted that, on Dark, Netflix had allowed them to include two shooting hiatuses so that crew could see their families. “In the industry it seems like no one cares if you have kids. At Netflix, people actually listened to our concerns.”
“We’ve learned a lot about timelines and what makes sense here [in Europe], our goal is to find that middle ground where we are pushing boundaries but are at the same time melding into the culture,” added Eggebeen.
Perhaps the overriding message once again coming from Netflix is that the streamer’s recent rapid expansion into local markets is only just the tip of the iceberg.
“We’re just getting started. We’ll continue to find more exciting projects, and new and exciting ways to do our deals,” said Eggebeen.