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Nielsen Launches Ratings Service for Netflix


Nielsen & Netflix
Nielsen & Netflix

Nielsen is offering long-sought insight into Netflix viewership. The ratings firm is providing a new service that will enable media companies to gauge how many people watched their shows and those of competitors on Netflix.

Studios, TV networks and licensees will be able to subscribe to the service to get access to ratings for 12,000 Netflix assets, including programs such as “Stranger Things.” Nielsen is planning to add similar data for Hulu and Amazon in 2018, a Nielsen spokeswoman said. So far, five television and production studios have signed on for the service, including A&E Networks, Disney-ABC Television Group, Lions Gate, NBCUniversal and Warner Bros. Nielsen doesn’t yet have a service available to measure Netflix viewership on mobile devices.

Netflix has long been reticent to release viewership data, citing that ratings for shows on its streaming service are irrelevant since it doesn’t sell advertising. But that lack of data has been an ongoing frustration for studios, content creators and potential licensees, who are seeking to gauge Netflix viewership. The information potentially gives studios and content creators a measure of how to distribute their content, as well as potential licensees a means for determining the popularity of Netflix’s growing number of original series to which they own the rights.

Nielsen’s new service represents a change from what it first proposed in 2014 for gauging viewership on subscription TV streaming services. While Nielsen initially relied on audio files provided by individual content creators, it has since shifted to proprietary technology and its existing household panels to determine how many people are using Netflix. Nielsen takes that data and makes projections as to viewership and trends among a larger audience. Netflix ended Q3 on Sept. 30 with 103.9 million subscribers, including 51.3 million in the U.S. and 52.6 million in international markets.

“I don’t know if the hard numbers” from Nielsen will “change anything for me,” says Tervis’ Maureen Mason, whose drinkware company has been in licensing discussions with Netflix. “When we pull information and talk to retailers will we say ‘this is the strength of this brand?’ Sure. But in the same way I would talk about what the numbers were at the box office. At the end of the day those are numbers and it is no guarantee you are going to sell a ton of product based on them.”

The launch of the Nielsen service follows Netflix’s Monday forecasting of a $7-$8 billion spend on content in 2018, up from about $6 billion in 2017. The increased spending comes as Netflix builds toward a goal of having original films and series account for 50% of the streaming service’s offering by 2020, Chief Financial Officer David Wells told analysts. Netflix has more than 30 anime titles in production and expects to release 80 original films in 2018. Among the original films on tap are Bright at the end of this year and Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman in 2019.

At the same time, Netflix is beefing up its licensing staff, having hired former World Wrestling Entertainment executive Jess Richardson in August and more recently, given Shauna Spenley, VP of Marketing, added responsibility for consumer products.

Netflix also recently rolled out an exclusive collection of licensed goods and displays at Target tied to “Stranger Things,” which launches its second season on Oct. 28. Topshop and Topman will stock a 28-piece capsule collection of “Stranger Things” merchandise starting Oct. 20 in select UK stores. The chain also will host special screenings of the first two episodes at the London flagship stores on Oct. 26.

“We are learning how to do merchandising with the displays and materials” Target and Topman, CEO Reed Hastings said


Netflix, David Wells, Chief Financial Officer, 408 -540-3700.


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