How well did "Arrested Development" do for Netflix this past weekend -- in terms of specific viewers for the debut of the new episodes of the long-canceled Fox series? Your answer is the same as how new series "House of Cards" did for the subscription video-on-demand service back in February.
Start scratching your head.
You won't find out from the Netflix executives -- although I'm sure they might muse to the business press vague terms such as "good," "well," and/or "strong." This won't mean much for the aficionados looking for more concrete business data
Business data as a lure for consumers has never been an exact science. If an episode of "American Idol" got to 20 million viewers -- something it no longer does -- does that lead consumers to tune in? Some would say absolutely; herd instinct, after all.
Does it help moviegoers that "Fast & Furious 6" took in a record $120 million in U.S. box office revenue this past weekend? Yes -- especially when many news outlets, including local TV programs, have regularly reported on box office news for years.
It wasn't that long ago HBO and MTV shied away from releasing ratings, or viewership data of their original shows. Now that has changed. But other changes are in the works.
More than ever now, TV executives believe the current viewing/usage metrics don't accurately reflect the value of their content -- not just to potential business partners, but for their customers.
Specifically, TV executives have been complaining that the current ubiquitous live-plus-same-day time-shifted programing ratings from Nielsen hardly reflect an accurate picture of usage -- especially in a time-shifted, TV-anywhere and/or Everywhere world. Rather, a full seven days of data is better; some would go further in saying that 21, 30, 60, or 90 days is preferable -- and for other platforms that the show plays on.
In that regard you can see how Netflix has a point -- at least from a timing standpoint. If U.S. entertainment consumers continue to be flexible and personal -- and not day- and date-specific when it comes to their entertainment consumption -- we'll need other measures to figure out what works and what doesn't.
So what's the best guess for the new "Arrested Development"? Brad Adgate, senior vp and corporate research director for Horizon Media, told Bloomberg TV that he believes 5 million to 6 million of Netflix's 25 million subscribers took in some or all of the new 15 "Arrested Development" episodes.
He told TV Watch: "We may never know. But I think that's a realistic number."
All this leaves consumers having to go fully "old school" in determining whether to spend their valuable entertainment time/dollars on a piece of content -- like reading entertainment reviews. Not happy with that? How about reading into the fact that Tuesday's Netflix's stock closed down 6.4% to $214.19 -- after the "Arrested Development" opening weekend? Happy analyzing to all.