Nielsen to start measuring Netflix, Amazon

Nielsen plans to start measuring viewership for Netflix and Amazon Prime, or at least part of what they stream, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The move is potentially a game-changer, although in the early stages companies will only be able to see SVOD viewership numbers for their own content, rather than a comprehensive ratings service.

Nielsen plans to use in-home metering devices to analyse the audio patterns of Netflix and Amazon Prime shows, then devise a metric for how many people are streaming those shows. However, this system only works with TV sets and not mobile or tablet streams, which make up the majority of Netflix and Amazon viewing.

Currently there are no official viewership figures for the TV shows that stream on Netflix and Amazon – whether they are acquired from broadcasters, produced in-house or produced by outside production companies and licensed exclusively to the SVOD services.

Netflix has in-house data, but doesn’t share it, arguing that it doesn’t really need to, as its service is not ad-supported. As the service is subscription-based, Netflix claims that subscription figures are the only numbers that count.

On the other hand, Hulu does allow Nielsen to measure its audience, at least on desktop computers, but then it’s the only ad-supported service among the big three US streaming companies.

“Our clients will be able to look at their programmes and understand: Is putting content on Netflix impacting viewership on other platforms?” Nielsen senior vice president Brian Fuhrer told the Wall Street Journal.