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Peek-a-Boo Netflix, I See You

by Michael Goodman | Nov 21, 2014

Netflix, Amazon and other online video services have long been black holes, where massive amounts of viewership goes in but little to no information regarding that viewership ever get reported out. This, however, is about to change. In a much anticipated move, The Nielsen Company announced that they will begin use the content's audio to identify which shows are being streamed, enabling them to begin reporting viewership data for these services as early as next month.

Nielsen’s solution is not perfect. They are only tracking shows from the major broadcast and cable networks and studios so ratings will not be available for SVOD originals like House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, or Alpha House. In addition, Nielsen can only track viewing that occurs on TVs. Viewing to SVOD services on laptops and desktop computers, tablets and smartphones cannot be tracked at this point in time, Though Nielsen hopes to be able to do so in the not so distant future.

Despite these short comings, the ability to finally shine the light of day on the inner workings of Netflix, Amazon, and other online video service providers is a significant step forward.

  • This will affect rights negotiations between rights holders (e.g., studios, broadcast and cable networks) and online video service providers. Rights holders will gain visibility for the first time into how SVOD is impacting viewership of linear and traditional VOD.
  • Though Nielsen is not measuring viewership of SVOD originals like House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, or Alpha House initially they are sure to do so at some point in time. When they do that information will impact negotiations with writers and actors. Really could you imaging House of Cards without Kevin Spacy because Netflix won’t pay what he is asking for the highest rated show on Netflix?

If nothing else it is going to be fascinating seeing who is viewing what on Netflix, Amazon and other online video services. I for one can’t wait.

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