Yes, Netflix Isn't Only Ad-Free TV Platform -- Some Of Them Even Disclose Ratings

TV ratings are for wimps.

Ted Sarandos, chief content officer of Netflix, didn’t say so -- but you can imagine he might have uttered this tough-guy remark given the chance this past week at the Television Critics Association meeting, or during Netflix’s fourth quarter earnings phone call with analysts.

Given the stock market and consumers continue to have positive feelings for the company, rising hubris could be expected.

But other TV programmers -- some might call them “networks” -- might also like to utter the same remarks.  Ratings aren’t everything, especially these days with plenty of time-shifting platforms: DVRs, video-on-demand services, and yes subscription video on demand services like Netflix.

Sarandos doesn’t want to play in the daily box score TV ratings game, to paraphrase his remarks. He alluded to the fact Netflix doesn’t carry advertising, which is more of a TV ratings-thing.

In this light, we can add a few other networks that also don’t take advertising: HBO and Showtime, to name two. But this doesn’t mean ratings are verboten at those networks. HBO and Showtime continue to offer up viewer data.



Recently Showtime did just that with its new series “Billions.” The show, which debuted Jan. 17, offered early previews to subscribers through a free weekend, and drew a Nielsen 2.99 million viewers for its premiere.

This came from 1.4 million viewers watching on the network on Sunday and another 1.6 million sampling the drama early across platforms. These were the best-ever results for a Showtime original TV series.

Last June, for its fifth season finale, HBO’s “Game of Thrones” posted an average 8.11 million viewers -- the biggest finale yet for the TV series. (“Thrones” also retains its ongoing renegade title around the world as the “most-pirated” show, according to some measurers.)

So some viewer numbers are important to these non-advertising-supported networks.

Might that be of some interest -- for consumers, TV producers, perhaps other media/TV-related business companies?  Do parent companies Time Warner (for HBO) or CBS (for Showtime) believe releasing this data juices their own respective stock prices?

Some might counter HBO and Showtime efforts have traditionally existed more in the “linear” TV world than Netflix — but that their reliance on TV ratings stems from an decreasingly less-effective marketing practice.

So then ask yourself why HBO and Showtime continues in this effort -- and whether -- as they look to copy Netflix’s success -- they might join in the no-TV-ratings fun.

2 comments about "Yes, Netflix Isn't Only Ad-Free TV Platform -- Some Of Them Even Disclose Ratings".
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  1. Stephanie Piche from Key Practices, Inc., January 20, 2016 at 5:04 p.m.

    So are you calling out Netflix for not sharing? Daring them almost? Guess it's a slow news day for TV...

  2. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, January 20, 2016 at 6:18 p.m.

    Another reason why HBO, Showtime and other channels that don't carry ads get rating data on their shows is that later, once they are done with them, these programs will go into syndication---mainly to basic cable channels but also to independent TV stations and, perhaps, SVOD services. You have to show these prospective buyers how well the shows did on you rnetwork and the appropriate demos or you get less money for them. It's as simple as that. I guess that Netflix has little or no interest in the syndication "aftermarket" for the "original" content it is developing.

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