Amazon Still Won’t Say How Many People Are Streaming Its Biggest Shows, Unlike Netflix

‘Our company doesn’t embrace that strategy,’ says Amazon Studios chief

Jennifer Salke said she's focused on keeping Amazon Prime's 100 million-plus subscribers happy. Getty Images
Headshot of Jason Lynch

After several years of refusing to release any ratings metrics, Netflix has finally begun selectively sharing some data about its most popular shows. But one of its biggest streaming rivals said it still won’t be following suit.

Amazon Prime Video reiterated today at the Television Critics Association’s summer press tour in L.A. that it won’t be sharing any metrics with the public or its creators about how many people are streaming its original content.

Jennifer Salke, head of Amazon Studios, noted that in her previous job at NBC, she was regularly able to tout the ratings success of her shows.

But “our company doesn’t embrace that strategy,” she said. “We agree that it’s not a strategy for us. We know what the numbers are, and that may change over time, but right now … we’ll talk about the success of our shows and single out shows that are overperforming.”

Salke did just that today, telling reporters that the “the most successful shows ever on the history of our service” all debuted on Amazon during the last year: Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan, Season 2 of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Hannah, Good Omens and Homecoming. But Salke did not disclose any specifics about how many people had actually streamed those shows.

Netflix had softened its stance against revealing ratings in recent months, explaining that it wanted its creators—and its subscribers—to understand how massively popular its shows are. In its most recent investors letter, Netflix indicated how many people had watched Dead to Me, When They See Us and Murder Mystery in their first weeks. It had previously spotlighted the huge ratings for the third season of Stranger Things.

Amazon doesn’t share any specific metrics with its showrunners, but “we have ways” of explaining how their respective shows are performing, said Albert Cheng, COO and co-head of television, Amazon Studios.

However, while Amazon itself won’t be releasing numbers about its shows, at least some of that data will soon be public.

Megan Clarken, chief commercial officer for Nielsen Global Media, told Adweek last month that Nielsen will soon measure Amazon’s  programming as part of its SVOD Content Ratings, just as it has done with Netflix content during the past two years.

Salke said she’s not worried about the increased competition in the streaming space, because she’s focused not on rivals but on satisfying Amazon Prime’s 100 million-plus global subscribers.

“We have a very unique business in the sense that our entire North Star is to entertain and delight Prime customers all over the world,” she said. “Because we are a customer-focused company, we’re constantly thinking of our customers. And our customers are global and diverse, and we will curate shows to bring to that global, diverse audience.”

Unlike some rivals, “We’re not in the volume business; we’re in the curated business of bringing individual shows to our global, diverse audience that they will love, and they will come to count on, coming to Amazon Prime Video and seeing shows that are of a certain quality and that are great.”

Her message to potential Prime subscribers: “You’re part of a greater value package across all of Amazon.”

Salke said Amazon’s biggest-ever project, an adaptation of Lord of the Rings, will begin filming next year. “The scripts have been outstanding, and our global casting search is well under way,” she said.

Amazon said today that it has signed new deals with Lena Waithe (who is producing the horror anthology series Them), Connie Britton, Blake Lively and Forest Whitaker’s Significant Productions company.

It also ordered The Baker’s Wife, a series based on Cristina Alger’s best-selling novel, from the Homeland duo of Meredith Stiehm (who will write all eight episodes) and Lesli Linka Glatter (who will direct all eight).

Phoebe Waller-Bridge has said there will be no more seasons of her series Fleabag, which received 11 Emmy nominations last week. “I am forever the optimist, so I remain always hopeful,” said Salke. “Anything Phoebe wants to do, we are signed up to do.”

The company is also hoping for another installment of Good Omens. ”It’s in [creator] Neil [Gaiman]’s hands now,” said Vernon Sanders, co-head of television. “Whatever he wants to do, we’re interested.”

However, there are no plans for a third season of Patriot or a second season of Matthew Weiner’s Mad Men followup, The Romanoffs.

@jasonlynch Jason Lynch is TV Editor at Adweek, overseeing trends, technology, personalities and programming across broadcast, cable and streaming video.