Headliner Talks

Netflix’s Scott Stuber: Keynote Conversation at Variety Innovate Summit

Netflix is closer to getting into the numbers game than it’s ever been.

Scott Stuber, the head of original films at Netflix, says the behemoth streaming company — which has famously kept its viewership and box office data hidden from public display — is working on a comprehensive system of making audience metrics for its films more transparent.

While in a conversation with Variety editor-in-chief Claudia Eller at Variety‘s December 2019 Innovate Summit presented by PwC in Los Angeles, Stuber explained that Netflix is “building towards” releasing more viewership data.

“You’ll see more numbers from us, more transparency, more articulation of what’s working and not,” Stuber says. “Because we recognize it’s important, sometimes to the creative community. It’s important to the press. It’s important to everything. So we were definitely headed in that direction as a company.”

Stuber stresses that since Netflix’s original film operation is still very much in its infancy, the company is working through how best to deliver audience data in a precise and thorough way. He notes that Netflix has been releasing top 10 lists for its U.K. and Mexico markets, and has been releasing select numbers when some films, like “Bird Box” and “Murder Mystery,” hit certain milestones.

But the company’s strategy to release some movies theatrically before they debut on streaming, he says, presents a different kind of hurdle.

In a hypothetical scenario, he says, what if Netflix releases a movie that is projected to open at $15 million, but only opens to $9 million?

“If that asset is perceived as a failure and then four weeks later or five weeks later I put it into an ecosystem where 50 million people watch it, it’s a giant hit for me,” he says. “But now my consumer has been told by you [in the press] that is a failure when that’s not the full business story.”

“We’re not hiding anything,” he adds. “I just want it to be articulated correctly to protect the filmmaker and protect the movie because [box office is] not the whole business for us.”