By Lisa Richwine
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Netflix Inc’s <NFLX.O> animated holiday movie “Klaus” has been watched in nearly 30 million households worldwide during its first month, landing among the streaming service’s most-watched original movies, according to data the company provided to Reuters.
“Klaus,” a story of how Santa came to be, is Netflix’s first original animated film and part of an effort to build a library of family programming as it competes with new streaming rivals including Walt Disney Co <DIS.N>.
Netflix only selectively releases viewership figures for programming it considers a hit, and the numbers are not verified by a third party. The company counts a view when an account streams at least 70% of a movie.
“Klaus” has attracted high repeat viewing that is not included in the nearly 30 million figure, Netflix said. The number reflects viewership over the first 28 days since its Nov. 15 debut.
Made mainly using hand-drawn animation, the film tells the story of a selfish postman and a reclusive toymaker who form an unlikely friendship. It was written and directed by Spanish animator and “Despicable Me” creator Sergio Pablos and features the voices of J.K. Simmons and Jason Schwartzman.
The world’s largest streaming service, Netflix boasts more than 158 million subscribers around the world. But it is facing new competition, particularly from Disney, which has been removing its movies from Netflix and putting them on the Disney+ streaming service.
Netflix has disclosed other data to show the appeal of its children’s and family programming. It previously announced that live-action movie “Tall Girl” was watched by more than 40 million accounts during its first four weeks, and Indian animated series “Mighty Little Bheem” has been viewed by 27 million.
The company plans to release several animated films for kids and families next year, said Melissa Cobb, Netflix’s vice president of original animation. They include comedy “The Willoughbys,” an adaptation of a children’s book, and musical “Over the Moon.”
Executives at Netflix have said they plan to be more transparent with audience data to satisfy Hollywood producers and stars and to help viewers decide what to watch.
Earlier this month, Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos said that mob epic “The Irishman” was likely to hit 40 million views within its first month. Last December’s thriller “Bird Box” was streamed by more than 80 million households in its first month, Netflix said.
(Reporting by Lisa Richwine; editing by Diane Craft)