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Neilsen to Start Tracking Streaming Services Like it Does For Broadcast TV

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Cord cutting has now become the “new normal”, as they say.  More and more people are doing it, and subsequently moving to streaming services.  Because of that, Neilsen is going to start tracking subscription-based streaming numbers.  The idea is to measure streaming services in the same way that Neilsen has tracked broadcast TV for decades now.  This includes demographic information and the number of people streaming a program.  This is huge though.  Think about it.  Previously, Neilsen would only track this information if you were watching the show at the time it aired.  But who does that anymore? Even if you do watch at the time that it’s on, like my parents, those numbers are going to be relatively low.  Which suggests that no one is watching a show.  And this is how ratings are calculated.

For now, however, Neilsen is only going to be tracking Netflix.  But you can expect them to start tracking data from Amazon and Hulu by next year.  Another reason that this is so huge is the number of companies that are getting into the streaming business.  Disney, for example, is planning on launching their own version of Netflix, so they will want to know what those numbers are.  Especially for their own Disney produced shows. But Netflix hasn’t “signed on” to have this data tracked.  Netflix is against the idea, so Neilsen is going to be tracking this information independently.  Is that ok?

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This is going to be problematic though as the report won’t be comprehensive. For a couple of reasons.  First, it’s expected to be reporting low.  But also they’re not counting mobile devices.  And to me, that is a ludicrous idea.  I would suspect that a lot of people are watching from a mobile device at some point.  Whether it’s your second TV that you watch in your bedroom, or what you do when you’re commuting to work. Which means this information isn’t really going to be accurate.

Netflix knows how often people are watching their shows.  They know all of that information, but they don’t share it with anyone.  Even when it comes to successful shows.  Which means, if Neilsen suddenly starts showing this information, Netflix might get its back up, because the information isn’t necessarily accurate.  Which is what I mentioned above, and that’s not exactly good news for Netflix.  Or any of these companies that are wanting to watch for this information.

Nielsen began tracking TV ratings for Hulu’s live TV service and YouTube TV in July, and a month later announced it would begin tracking videos on Facebook, Hulu and YouTube viewing habits back in August. As more and more people shift away from traditional TV broadcasts, advertisers and media executives still need a way to measure a show’s popularity. This new Subscription Video On Demand Content Ratings program should help with exactly that.  But is it going to give “us” the information that we need?  Netflix knows who is watching, what they’re watching, when they’re watching and where they’re watching.  So why does Neilsen need to share that information?  Well, it helps other companies build a better product so that we aren’t associating an entire industry (streaming services) with just one business (Netflix).  There is room for others, but Netflix is still king in this realm.  At least for now.

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