Reed Hastings Speaks About Nielsen's Plans for Measuring Viewership - The UpStream

Reed Hastings Speaks About Nielsen's Plans for Measuring Viewership

posted Sunday Nov 30, 2014 by Scott Ertz

Reed Hastings Speaks About Nielsen's Plans for Measuring Viewership

Earlier in the month, the Wall Street Journal reported that Nielsen had plans to start measuring streaming viewership. This was a big deal for the producers of content, which have had a lot of trouble knowing exactly how their content is doing on streaming services. This is especially problematic for the producers of programs like Orange Is the New Black, which is available exclusively through streaming. It could also be important for the streaming services themselves, as an independent count of streaming can help with negotiations.

The program will run in a similar manner to how standard Nielsen ratings work: specific people's viewing habits will be averaged to a national number. The content's audio will be parsed as it is played, similar to how Shazam and Cortana identify music, and the viewings will be logged. There is a problem with the program however, as Reed Hastings points out,

It's not very relevant. There's so much viewing that happens on a mobile phone or an iPad that (Nielsen won't) capture.

The inability to count mobile views is a big problem. For me, a lot of my viewing happens on a tablet or phone, and I know that I am not the exception. Losing independent rating of mobile content will make the numbers a little less than useful for Netflix, Hulu or Amazon. That is, unless Netflix can show a correlation between home and mobile numbers on their own servers, and convince content producers that the numbers are accurate.

This is a difficult task, as trusting a company's own numbers on a topic which is vital to the company's existence and can't be corroborated can be dubious. The desire to play with said numbers can be overwhelming, and companies in broadcasting, which streaming technically fits into, have been known to do just that. This is where Nielsen comes normally comes in with broadcast, cable and satellite, though all of those views are counted equally.

Hastings also had something to say about traditional television,

It's kind of like the horse, you know, the horse was good until we had the car. The age of broadcast TV will probably last until 2030.

While he was referring specifically to broadcast television, we have had conversations in the past about the end of the appointment television era as a whole, and we believe that this prognosis is fairly accurate. The biggest hurdle will be getting Nielsen to count all views, not just home.


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