Netflix and Nielsen are having what might be politely described as a misunderstanding about Nielsen’s newest effort to measure Netflix viewing. USA Today reports that Nielsen “is offering its first data on how many people actually watch the streaming giant’s original series in the first week following their release,” but the data isn’t coming from Netflix.
“Instead, Nielsen uses the same ‘people-meter’ technology it employs for traditional TV ratings to measure Netflix’s movies, original series and reruns of older series,” the story reports, adding: “What Nielsen found for new seasons of three original series — ‘House of Cards,’ ‘Fuller House’ and ‘Marvel’s The Defenders’ — was a big crowd for a service that reaches only 59% of U.S. TV homes.”
Nielsen determined that “The Defenders” had an average audience of 6.1 million viewers in the week following its Aug. 18 release, while “House of Cards,” which premiered May 30, and “Fuller House,” which bowed Sept. 22, each averaged 4.6 million viewers for their season premieres in the week following their season premieres, according to the USA Today report.
While the numbers are pretty good, Netflix apparently isn’t buying them. Variety quotes a statement from Netflix in which the company says: “The data that Nielsen is reporting is not accurate, not even close, and does not reflect the viewing of these shows on Netflix.”
For its part, Nielsen seems to want the effort to work out. Variety quotes Megan Clarken, the Nielsen executive who oversees measurement products related to video, saying: “Measurement of SVOD content has been a big blind spot for the industry.”
Clarken confirms that the latest efforts by Nielsen are focused on Netflix. “It is clearly the largest in the industry, and the one in which most of our clients said they don’t have transparency,” Clarken says in the Variety report. “There are about 12,000 shows that appear on Netflix that have not been measured in the past. This provides measurement across some 12,000 of those assets, and we will extend it to the SVOD services that are not measured today.”