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Nielsen to share Netflix viewer data

Stephen Battaglio Los Angeles Times

Audience measurement company Nielsen will offer networks and studios data on who is watching programs on streaming video on-demand services such as Netflix.

While Nielsen has tracked streaming and on-demand content since 2014, the new service announced Wednesday will for the first time give clients online viewership information about their own shows and movies and the programming of their competitors.

Seeing how other programs are faring could help networks and studios in negotiating deals with streaming services.

Executives that sell their programming to Netflix have said the company shares information on how many subscribers watch their shows, but the data has been provided confidentially.

The data will also uncover how many people are watching Netflix originals such as “Stranger Things” and “House of Cards.”

Netflix and other streaming companies have never publicly revealed the size of their audiences for specific programs, while TV ratings for broadcast and cable network fare are widely distributed and reported on in the press.

The secretiveness has largely insulated Netflix and other streaming companies from the scrutiny that usually comes with the decision to renew or cancel programs.

Companies who subscribe to the new service from Nielsen will now be able to tout their streaming ratings in press releases — and also give comparisons on how they perform versus other streamed programming.

It will also allow program-makers to tout the total viewership for its content across all platforms. While live TV viewing has declined, networks executives have claimed that many of their programs are more than making up those losses on streaming services.

Nielsen is already collecting data on programs streamed by Netflix, the largest subscription video on-demand service with more than 50 million subscribers. Data for services such as Hulu and Amazon are expected to be available next year

Nielsen said in a statement that A&E Networks, Disney-ABC, Lionsgate, NBCUniversal, Warner Brothers and others have already signed on to subscribe to its service.