We still don’t know how many people watch a particular Netflix show -- but we’re getting closer.
For some time now, Ted Sarandos, chief content officer at Netflix, has declined to reveal any viewing information for shows on the subscription video-on-demand service.
But he tipped his hand some recently. He said Netflix shows “are [among] the most watched shows on television.” He didn’t say what shows, or reveal any other details.
At the recent UBS Global Media conference, John Hodulik, media analyst at UBS, said HBO had the number-one most-viewed show with “Game of Thrones" according to new audience analysis Nielsen had shared with him,. Netflix had the “second best show” -- though Hodulik didn’t disclose what that was.
“I bet they were wrong,” responded Sarandos. “I bet we were number one.” He believes Nielsen can’t track all the 700 some-odd devices capable of getting video around the world. “They don’t measure all the devices,” he said.
Mind you, Sarandos still doesn’t want to play the ratings game -- which ironically is something HBO, now a competitor, and even MTV looked to avoid in their respective early days.
But Netflix might get to a size where, like those channels, it would be beneficial to tout numbers, in order to push independent-minded TV producers to consider producing Netflix shows as well as to to drive more viewer subscriptions.
Now in around 42 million U.S. homes, Netflix would seem to have much more room to grow -- looking at the potential overall U.S. TV market of 116.4 million homes.
Right now, Nielsen is taking up the challenge of those numbers, looking to ramp up its Total TV viewing research, which will include traditional TV viewing, ad-supported streaming, as well as subscription video-on-demand services like Netflix. Some of this data could be released in a few months.
Nielsen has already been sharing early data with TV/movie studios who pay Nielsen for current TV and other research.
Nielsen aside, we get the sense Sarandos, like any good executive cheerleader, is itching to tell us something more TV-centric about Netflix shows -- viewing data that no one else has. All this to show Netflix TV shows are seen by more people than those shows by the competition.