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Nielsen Says It Can Measure Netflix Ratings

18 Oct, 2017 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Nielsen Oct. 18 announced it could now measure viewer data from third-party subscription streaming video services such as Netflix.

Nielsen cut its teeth measuring broadcast television programs — an exercise it says it can replicate with SVOD. Eight TV networks and production studios, including A&E Networks, Disney-ABC, Lionsgate, NBC Universal and Warner Bros., subscribe to the new service.

Nielsen said clients would have a more comprehensive view of their content’s total audience regardless of where it was viewed. As a result, content owners now have the ability to follow the full lifecycle of a program from initial broadcast, time-shifted viewing, video-on-demand and SVOD.

As SVOD original programs enter the traditional TV ecosystem, insight into streaming viewership would afford content owners and networks with real data into what was previously a significant and expanding blind spot of consumer behavior.

Indeed, Netflix has steadfastly refused to release viewership data for original programming, citing the lack of an ad-supported business model.

In an interview on National Public Radio, Brian Fuhrer, SVP of product leadership at Nielsen, characterized the new data tracking as a “game changer for the overall TV view.”

Fuhrer said 6.1 million people streamed the first episode of Netflix original series “The Defenders” (from Marvel Studios) during its first week, including 4.6 million during the first day. “House of Cards” and “Fuller House” generated 4.6 million viewers, respectively, during the first week.

In a statement, a Netflix representative the data Nielsen reported was inaccurate, "not even close and does not reflect the viewing of these shows on Netflix.” It has previously cited Nielsen's omission of viewership on portable devices such as mobile phones and tablets, among other issues, for misleading data.

Regardless, Megan Clarken, president of watch at Nielsen, said significant growth of SVOD services in entertainment markets across the world has created demand from content rights owners trying to understand the size and composition of audiences relative to other programs and platforms.

“Syndication of SVOD measurement as part of Nielsen represents a big step forward in terms of moving closer to transparency within the SVOD marketplace,” Clarken said in a statement.

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