Nielsen Set to Measure Viewing of Shows Streaming on Netflix

Studios and networks sign on for SVOD content ratings
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While Netflix doesn’t divulge how many people are watching its shows, Nielsen is set to provide its clients with a new syndicated service that will measure viewing of shows being streamed by subscription video-on-demand services, starting with Netflix.

Among the first eight to sign up for the new Nielsen Subscription Video-on-Demand Service are A+E Networks, Disney/ABC, Lionsgate, NBCUniversal and Warner Bros.

Related: Netflix Tops Subscriber Forecast Again in Q3

The service will provide data comparable to what Nielsen provides for linear TV, including ratings, reach, frequency and demographics.

Already Nielsen has seen significant viewing of individual Netflix shows, particularly when a new season is dropped. Nielsen has also seen the kind of “binge viewing” behavior that Netflix claims its shows generate.

Nielsen has been working on its Total Audience strategy, attempting to measure viewing of all content on all platforms and devices. “We feel Netflix is a really important part of the ecosystem, particularly as we see some of these numbers and rankers,” said Brian Fuhrer, senior VP of product leadership at Nielsen.

The numbers are significant to different players in the business.

Related: Nielsen to Credit Video Views on Facebook, Hulu and YouTube

Nielsen first started looking into Netflix viewership for the studios that produce original programming for Netflix or sell it to Netflix after it has appeared on a more traditional outlet. The studios didn’t want to be dependent on Netflix to gauge the performance of their programming and will now have third-party measurement of how popular shows on Netflix are when they sit down to negotiate renewals.

The data will also give the studios and networks better information about how selling programming to Netflix and other SVOD services affects ratings on linear networks.

Networks have also been asking how many people are watching Netflix shows, particularly on days when a new season of a series is released. Armed with that information, networks can make better decisions about whether they need to develop counter-programming strategies, Fuhrer says.

And while Netflix doesn’t run commercials, media buying agencies are interested in SVOD Content Ratings because they’re trying to figure out what happened to the viewers they need to reach as traditional ratings shrink.

Fuhrer says that Nielsen already knew that in homes that had devices capable of streaming, about 12% to 13% of total viewing time is streaming and half of that goes to Netflix. That means 6% to 7% of viewing goes to Netflix.

“The new service gives us the ability to drill down on specific programs,” he says.

For example, the week the new season of Fuller House dropped, three episodes were in the top 20 among adults 18 to 49 using a metric similar to live plus seven days. That was made even more impressive because it was an NFL week and most of the rest of the top 20 were sports shows.

Similarly, when season five of House of Cards dropped, several episodes were in the top 20.

“We’re seeing big numbers for The Defenders as well,” Fuhrer said.

The new data also confirms that Netflix subscribers tend to binge watch new shows. Fuhrer said that among people who watched The Defenders when it became avaialbe, the average viewer watched 4.6 episodes that first day.