BBC director general Tony Hall on Thursday took potshots at Netflix’s big-budget original series The Crown, claiming it has a viewership of only seven million in the United Kingdom, far lower than that of the British broadcaster’s more modestly financed shows Luther and Bodyguard, The Guardian reported.
At a media conference in London, Hall said, “I mentioned the Bodyguard finale reaching 17 million viewers. That was in one month. Our data suggests The Crown reached seven million users in 17 months.” Hall did not mention the source of his data, but The Guardian spoke to a BBC spokesperson who said they were from a “nationally representative survey” commissioned by the corporation last year.
The Golden Globe-winning Netflix original series traces the reign of Queen Elizabeth II. The show starred Claire Foy as a younger Elizabeth in the first two seasons. Oscar-winning actress Olivia Colman will take the baton in the third season, which is expected to come out later this year. Bodyguard, starring Game of Thrones’s Richard Madden, is reportedly BBC’s most-watched show since 2008.
Hall made the comment while urging the channel to improve its online streamer BBC iPlayer and arguing for a change in regulations that restrict traditional broadcasters but are not applicable to online services.
Netflix, known for its opacity over viewership figures – it rarely makes the data public and uses its own metric for calculations – declined comment on Hall’s remarks, The Guardian said. The Independent cited a source from the streaming giant who said that they did not recognise the figures. “It is a UK-made show, which has taken a very British subject to 190 countries,” the source added.
According to reports, Netflix has 10 million subscribers in the UK.
Meanwhile, the streaming giant announced its latest high-profile exit – Chief Marketing Officer Kelly Bennett, who leaves the company after seven years. In a statement on Thursday, CEO Reed Hastings said, “Kelly Bennett has been absolutely transformational for us as we expanded our member base in the US and globally, and particularly as we transitioned into being a leader in original series and films.”
This comes a day after Erik Barmack, the Vice President of international originals for Latin America, EMEA (Europe, the Middle East and Africa) and India, left the company to start his own production venture. Bela Bajaria, Vice President Content, will now take charge of the streaming platform’s non-English original series in international markets.
In the last three years, the company has replaced its chief product officer, chief financial officer, chief talent officer, and chief communications officer, Fortune said.