Netflix top banana Ted Sarandos appeared at the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference in New York recently, and while there he revealed a lot of things.
He said Netflix probably won’t be getting into sports soon. He said Netflix will continue its big global expansion plan. And he said Adam Sandler “is a global superstar just emerging in Latin America.” Which, yes, fine, these are things you say when you’re in front of a crowd discussing the future of your streaming behemoth. (“Streaming Behemoth” is the name of my band, “Streaming Behemoth” is the name of my craft beer, etc. etc. etc.) But the most surprising thing he said — or rather, that he kind of said — was that Narcos is more popular than Game of Thrones.
Let’s back up. First, there’s this, from THR’s report from the UBS Conference.
The moderator asked whether he was pleased with a recent survey that indicating Netflix would have the second biggest show on cable if measured traditionally, behind only HBO’s Game of Thrones. As usual, Sarandos declined to go into specific numbers about how many people are watching any given show on the Netflix platform, but does believe that even this doesn’t give the company enough credit.
“We’re pleased to take the number two spot, but think it’s number one because they don’t measure all the devices,” he said.
Unless I’m mistaken, the survey they’re referring to is this one from Parrot Analytics, a media research company. The survey used all sorts of factors — legal streaming, social media, and torrenting statistics, among others — to determine “User Demand” for shows on HBO, Netflix, and Amazon. One of the conclusions was that Game of Thrones was the most popular program of the whole group in America, coming in at 28,260,856 “Demand Expressions.” This figure represents almost twice as many as the second-place show, Narcos. So what Sarandos is claiming is that Narcos more than covers this gap once you consider a few more factors.
There are two notable things about this claim. The first thing is that “they don’t measure all the devices” is a pretty great comeback to keep in your back pocket for whenever the facts appear to be against you. (“Ladies and gentleman of the jury, I know it sounded like the prosecution made a strong case, but they don’t measure all the devices.”) And the second is that even though “Narcos is more popular than Game of Thrones” doesn’t necessarily feel like a true statement, it very well could be when you factor in the international appeal of the show. As Sarandos said:
“Eighty-five percent [of dialogue] is in Spanish,” he noted. “It’s produced by a French company, shot in Colombia with Brazilian stars and hugely popular in Germany. This is the first flavor of what global television can be.”
Which, again, yes, fine. Maybe Narcos is more popular than Game of Thrones when you add up all the devices and its international audience. But none of this factors in the time makeout-crazed Game of Thrones fans chased Jaime Lannister all over Spain. If we’re going to get an answer once and for all here, we really should consider everything, makeout-crazed superfans included. All scientists know this.