The drama series You didn't attract much attention on Lifetime, but its debut on Netflix has been huge, according to the streamer.
The thriller starring Penn Badgley and Elizabeth Lail averaged about 1.1 million viewers (and only 611,000 in same-day ratings) during its run on cable in the fall. It has grown exponentially since debuting on Netflix in late December.
In the company's quarterly earnings report, Netflix said You is on pace to be watched by 40 million member households in its first four weeks on the service.
The British dramedy Sex Education, which launched last Friday, is also on pace to hit the 40 million mark within a month. The Spanish teen drama Elite was viewed in more than 20 million homes worldwide in its first four weeks. The feature film Bird Box, meanwhile, is on track to be seen by 80 million Netflix households.
The numbers for You and Sex Education are projections from Netflix, and they don't correspond directly with Nielsen ratings for traditional TV. The company counts a "viewer" as anyone who completes at least 70 percent of a single episode of a series (or 70 percent of a film). The average viewership for each episode is likely not that high; Netflix does not publicly report full viewership numbers for its content.
Nielsen does measure streaming viewership, with some limitations. For example, the ratings service said season two of Stranger Things averaged 8.8 million viewers within three days of launch, while House of Cards' final season averaged 1.53 million in its first week of release. Those figures are for TV viewing only in the U.S.; Netflix has disputed those numbers as they don't include viewing on other devices in this country or any worldwide data.
International fare including Bodyguard, a co-production with BBC One; Italian original Baby; and Turkish original The Protector were each watched in more than 10 million households during their first four weeks on Netflix.
The streaming giant has long been private about its viewership, and it is telling that Netflix is starting to reveal select audience data around its programming. As the company has stocked up on original programming for its service, the concern in Hollywood has been that shows will get buried under the sheer volume of content. By touting when a project performs well, Netflix is providing a bit more insight into what is working on its platform.