Netflix are notoriously secretive about how many people watch their original series, but we didn’t think that even stretched to the people who make the shows.
House of Cards showrunner Beau Willimon is as much in the dark as the rest of us when it comes to how many people have streamed Frank Underwood into their homes.
He revealed at a recent industry roundtable with The Hollywood Reporter that he had not seen any of the data relating to House of Cards.
“To this day, I have no idea how many people have watched the show on Netflix,” Willimon admitted. “They have never given me any data whatsoever. All they say is, ‘Well, we’re doing well and we’d like another season.’ And that’s really all I need to know.”
Ratings on traditional TV can make or break a new show, and producers and channel executives will pore over the viewing figures released the morning after a show has aired.
However, Netflix and other streaming services such as Amazon do not reveal any of their audience numbers, despite having access to a wealth of information about their subscribers’ viewing habits.
Willimon said that he was comfortable with this arrangement, and that there were other ways to judge whether his drama was a success: “I think there are a lot of different metrics on which to gauge success now, and all that really matters is that the people paying the bills want another season.”
One less welcome ‘metric of success’: series three of House of Cards was illegally downloaded almost 700,000 times in the first 24 hours of its release, with pirated copies especially popular in countries where Netflix was unavailable, including China, Australia and Greece.