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Study: Netflix, Amazon Prime Content No Threat to HBO's 'Throne'

20 Nov, 2015 By: Erik Gruenwedel

HBO's "Game of Thrones"

Fox Broadcasting Nov. 20 announced it would no longer be beholden to reporting Nielsen live and same-day ratings for TV shows — a stance underscoring the rapidly evolving on-demand TV landscape in an era of over-the-top video and Netflix.

While those seeking Fox ratings will still find them tracked by Nielsen, determining viewership data for Netflix, Amazon Prime Instant Video and Hulu Plus original programming continues to be a guessing game.

Or is it?

Parrot Analytics just released data (tracked in September) suggesting HBO Now’s “Game of Thrones” has generated 28.2 million “demand expressions” in the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom, well more than Netflix’s new series “Narcos (14.3 million), award-winner “Orange Is the New Black” (8 million), HBO’s “True Detective” (7.8 million) and “Silicon Valley” (6.3 million).

Other top streamed programs include HBO’s “Last Week Tonight With John Oliver,” “Ballers,” Netflix’s “Sense8,” “Daredevil,” Marco Polo,” Amazon’s “Hand of God,” “Transparent,” “The Man  in the High Castle,” “Bosch” and “Mozart in the Jungle.”

While verifying Netflix’s (and Prime Instant Video) viewership data is as elusive as unearthing the Coke recipe (the companies, citing their ad-free business models, do not disclose the numbers), Parrot contends it can make SVOD viewership more than guesswork.

By slicing and dicing video streams, social media, blogging, file-sharing, social media and wiki platforms, among others, Parrot's "demand expressions" determined that outside “Thrones,” Netflix and HBO Now have similar audience numbers — followed by Amazon Prime.

“In all three markets, Amazon’s titles have considerably less demand than HBO and Netflix titles,” Parrot wrote in Incumbents and Challengers: The Current Status.

Notably, Netflix’s highly-touted political series “House of Cards” and Amazon’s decorated adult comedy “Transparent” didn’t rank among the top five programs in the U.S. “Transparent” (1.3 million) actually ranked behind Amazon’s top show, “Hand of God” (1.9 million), starring Ron Perlman (“Sons of Anarchy”) as a corrupt judge who embraces God in hopes of waking his comatose son.

In the U.K., pending Amazon series “The Man in the High Castle” had almost three times the “demand expressions” of existing Prime originals series “Mozart in the Jungle,” and just behind “Transparent” and LA detective noire “Bosch.”

“‘Transparent’ does not seem to have attracted as much demand as some of Amazon’s other titles,” Parrot stated.

Meanwhile, Parrot found that when removing “Game of Thrones” from the equation, Netflix and HBO Now rated even among their respective original programs — with Netflix edging out the premium pay-TV operator in the U.K.

“Without ‘Thrones,’ Netflix has nearly the same demand for its content as HBO, making it a strong challenger to HBO’s throne,” Parrot stated.

Interestingly, Nielsen has said it would track Netflix viewership data this year — metrics it said would not include viewership on portable media devices. It has yet to release any Netflix data.

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