Netflix has been a frequent target of FX Networks CEO John Landgraf, and on Monday he unloaded on the streaming service for providing “wildly inaccurate” viewership information about some of its programs.
Speaking at the Television Critics Association tour in Pasadena, California, Landgraf accused Netflix of offering “cherry-picked” data that misrepresent “the number and scale of their hits.”
Specifically, Landgraf cited Netflix statements regarding how many homes have watched programs like “You” and “Sex Education.” He said the company’s metric doesn’t conform to industry norms, and thus significantly inflates estimates for how many people watched.
In a letter to investors, Netflix said it counted viewers “if they substantially complete at least one episode.” Netflix declined to comment about Landgraf’s remarks.
Netflix kept that kind of data proprietary for a long time. But now it’s flirting with the release of tidbits about its more popular programs. For example, the service also touted the success of the movie “Bird Box,” starring Sandra Bullock.
Landgraf chided Netflix for selectively discussing hits and issuing unverified internal data, as opposed to following standards that have historically governed TV viewing and might allow for apples-to-apples comparisons.
“I just genuinely believe the rules should be made as a common good for everyone,” Landgraf said, adding that the attitude of Silicon Valley companies that have entered the programming business “really, really bothers me.”
Nielsen has sought to measure Netflix viewership, although the service has frequently disputed the accuracy of those numbers.
Landgraf called “Stranger Things” a genuine hit for Netflix, but noted that the company conspicuously ignores its under-performing shows.
He also repeated a phrase that he has used in the past about Netflix and other deep-pocketed tech companies: They are blasting competitors with a “money cannon.”
“One way or another, the truth will always come out, as it always does,” Landgraf said about Netflix’s viewership data.
Separately, Landgraf expressed enthusiasm about being part of the Walt Disney Company’s larger programming strategy once its acquisition of key 21st Century Fox entertainment assets closes, saying that Disney CEO Bob Iger has stated that FX will “help build his vision for the future of Disney.”
Landgraf said he expects FX to increase its original programming output in support of Disney’s streaming strategy, but that the network will remain a “laser-focused brand” in terms of its development approach.