Nielsen to start tracking viewership to Netflix

NetflixAccording to an article published in the Wall Journal Street earlier this week, the television viewing research company Nielsen will begin tracking viewership of streaming networks like Netflix and Amazon Prime beginning in December 2014, dragging the secretive companies’ ratings out into the open by using its home-based meters to listen in on TV audio.

Netflix and its streaming rivals have never self-reported viewership, and despite reaching nearly half of American homes this year, were never tracked by Nielsen. Well, Nielsen figured it out — and without their consent.

Nielsen, which still pulls much of its data from boxes connected to the TVs of several thousand “Nielsen families” across the nation, will use Shazam-like audio recognition via those boxes to track streams, the WSJ reported — at least those that come through television sets. It seems views on mobile devices will remain in the abstract for now, but the news still foretells a powerful shift in the battle for ad revenue between over-the-top and traditional cable and broadcasting companies.

The paper reached its conclusion by reviewing the documents of Nielsen clients, which include major corporations like Coca-Cola and media giants such as Disney, CBS, NBC Universal and News Corporation. At first, only the streaming networks will be able to view their own results, but a subscription to the data will become available soon, the Journal reported.

To date, streaming deals have been done without the benefit of ratings data: If Netflix, for instance, wanted to license TV programs or films — or do talent or studio production deals for originals — the folks on the other side of the table could only trust what they were being told about eyeballs. What’s more, ad-supported networks, which count on Netflix for downstream revenue, were in the dark about whether it was eating into their own viewers.

Not anymore.

“Our clients will be able to look at their programs and understand: Is putting content on Netflix impacting the viewership on linear and traditional VOD ?” Nielsen senior vice president Brian Fuhrer told the Journal.

But Nielsen has already come to that conclusion, the Journal reported, and the answer is yes: While 18-to-49 TV viewing in October is down 7% from last year, total household streaming-video subscriptions are up from 34% in January to 40% in September, according to the Journal’s review of Nielsen data. The data also showed a direct correlation between subscribing to a video service and watching less TV.

Not that anyone needed Nielsen to tell them that was going on.

(This article is sourced from: Mashable & The Wall Street Journal)


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