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BBC Director General Gets Snippy About Netflix's Audience

By Holly Brockwell on at

You know those ads where Brand A pokes fun at Brand B and thinks you'll definitely buy their product as a result? You know how they never, ever work and usually just make the brand look really low and petty?

Well, that's essentially where the BBC is right now after Director General Tony of Tony Hall openly took aim at Netflix's audience sizes.

Hall, speaking to a conference of media types, 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."

In other words, "ner ner, our audiences are bigger than yours!".

Hall was going on figures from a BBC-commissioned national survey, because Netflix doesn't release its viewing figures. So that 7 million could be entirely wrong.

Hall's point was supposed to be that despite all the buzz and excitement around The Crown (Netflix's first UK original show), it still didn't perform nearly as well as the BBC's own talkable shows like Luther and Bodyguard, which had smaller budgets.

But of course it's not what your year 8 science teacher would have called a fair test, because Netflix is a paid monthly subscription whereas the BBC comes free with the license fee, which most people have to pay whether they want to or not. Plus, those figures come from a survey the BBC commissioned itself, rather than anything official from Netflix.

Most crucially, the BBC lost out to Netflix in bidding for The Crown, because Netflix had more money. But we're sure that humiliation had nothing to do with it.

All this aside, it just really isn't a good look to start throwing public shade at the competition. It comes across as insecure, and often backfires on the shader rather than the shade-ee.

Netflix, unsurprisingly, declined to comment when asked by the Guardian. Which is infinitely classier than retaliating.

Honestly, Aunty Beeb, just stick to your own stuff. People watch the BBC, they watch Netflix, no one's choosing one over the other. Your insecurity is showing.