Don’t cry for NBC quite yet. Alan Wurtzel, the network’s long time president of research and development, told TV critics visiting Los Angeles on their semi-annual press event that while Netflix and Amazon and others are taking pieces out of TV, it’s not hardly as much as the sky-is-falling reports indicate.
But more than that, the big news from Wurtzel was some bean-spilling about the network’s research into real numbers behind viewership of big OTT outfits. Numbers aren't easily come by from those streaming giants.
NBC's data comes Symphony Advanced Media sampling 15,000 viewers over 35 days. The results are like this: “Jessica Jones” on Netflix drew 4.8 million during that time frame, Aziz Ansari’s “Master Of None” grabbed 3.9 million, “Narcos” attracted 3.1 million and Amazon’s “Man In The High Castle” had 2.1 million.
Netflix’s “Orange Is The New Black” attracted 644,000, though over all time, it’s the most popular series on Netflix.
The big point Wurtzel wanted to make was that traditional TV just drags in audiences day after bloody day, all the time, forever, while online services have brief, hot moments. Netflix titles get viewed intensely and that not so much in weeks after, more like a movie opening than a TV series. Wurtzel said 23% of all viewers watched “Orange/Black” the first week of its season premiere June 11, but 77% watched conventional TV. By the fifth week, as reported by Deadline Hollywood, “Orange/Black” got just 3% of all viewers. Netflix and Amazon,it would appear, live on binge viewers.
Those numbers are palatable for networks only if they don’t mind giving up a quarter of your viewership for one week, or 3% during ordinary times, and forfeiting it to a service that was basically non-existent before 2007. If it’s Netflix versus all of the TV world, it will lose every time, probably forever.
But it’s getting a pretty substantial bite, and since we know very little about who is watching Netflix or Amazon any information, however spun, is interesting. As shorthand, the idea that “nobody” watches NBC, ABC, CBS and Fox, is pretty common and it must be pretty irksome to Wurtzel. Really though, it’s just nobody compared to the good old days. Broadcast networks trotted out similar stats when cable began its ascendancy.
Variety notes that Wurtzel also pointed out that the presence of digital versions of NBC’s wearisome “Law & Order SVU” has helped bring down the average age of the new versions still showing on NBC. It’s never had better 18-24 demos. That may be useful data as networks and studios reconsider if whether selling off-network packages to Netflix, Amazon or Hulu is really good business.
THIS JUST IN...OR OUT: Just because I’m a softy, I thought all of you should see the birth of Braxton Bowens, 8 lbs., 14 ounces, born today in Wilmington, Calif., and the first baby ever born on Periscope, with 632 people watching. Be there. Go Braxton!