Netflix's Ratings Will Finally Be Made Public - But There's A Catch

Angelo Anderson
October 18, 2017

For the first time TV producers will be able to see how many people are watching nearly any Netflix show - including rival programming. With the commercial release of Nielsen Subscription Video On Demand (SVOD) Content Ratings, eight major television networks and production studios, including A&E Networks, Disney-ABC, Lionsgate, NBCUniversal, Warner Brothers and others, have already signed on to subscribe to this game-changing service. Since half of millennials reportedly stream Netflix from their mobile devices, this guarantees a huge gap in data, perhaps rendering these numbers not entirely ready for serious analysis yet.

Since 2014, Nielsen has been able to track the audiences for companies and studies that opted in.

A Netflix representative declined comment on the new service.

Nielsen, for decades the arbiter of popularity on TV, says it will now measure all Netflix viewing too.

Additionally, Nielsen's data comes only from USA customers, and Netflix has made an aggressive play in worldwide markets.


This new solution takes SVOD measurement to the next level with a significant enhancement to its video on demand (VOD) Content Ratings framework, which leverages the rich demographic and household characteristic data of the Nielsen National TV Panel, to identify viewing to these programs.

Executives that sell their programming to Netflix have said the company shares information on how many subscribers watch their shows, but the data has been provided confidentially. Of its roughly 104 million paying subscribers, a little more than half live outside the United States, according to Netflix's third-quarter earnings. Netflix's "The Defenders", "Fuller House" and "House of Cards" have comparable viewership numbers to top shows on cable and syndicated network TV, according to Nielsen. The new ratings figures, which Nielsen did not release to the news media, are likely to result in some pushback from the digital giant, which announced that it will spend $7 billion to $8 billion on content in 2018. Clients had to provide their content in advance so Nielsen could create audio fingerprints for its technology to later detect as people watched. Moreover, he said, because the company relies on subscriptions and not advertising, they were irrelevant.

"It's far, far superior", Clarken said. "It wasn't recruited in any kind of capacity to the gold standard that we recruit, so there's no representation in there", she said. "Our goal is to go well beyond interesting analytics".

John Koblin is a New York Times writer.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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