Commentary

Netflix: Cracking Open Data Doors To Some Of Its Viewers?

Netflix could opening its data door a crack, letting TV producers and TV business executives see how consumers are using its service. Is this because of oncoming pressure from the likes of Nielsen to offer up Netflix viewing research?

Netflix has historically offered little-to-no viewing data -- to the press or other TV companies -- because it believes such data isn’t necessary in this digital age, and because it’s not an ad-supported service.

But in a report some weeks ago, Netflix released some details on how subscribers binge-watch programming.

Netflix analyzed more than 100 TV series across more than 190 countries between October 2015 and May 2016.

For instance, Netflix says the median number of days to complete the first season of any of these series was five days; median hours per session was two hours and ten minutes. Series viewed less than two hours per day were identified as “savored.” Series viewed more than two hours per day were identified as “devoured.”

Netflix users plowed most quickly through such shows as “Sense8,” “Orphan Black,” “The 100.” “Breaking Bad” and “Orange is the New Black.”   Slower-binge watching, comes with “complex narratives” like House of Cards” and “Bloodline.”

Still, we have yet to get more specific results about Netflix shows: actual number of viewers, demographic breakdowns, time/days, or on what devices.

Later this year, Nielsen says it will start offering viewing research on Netflix programming, targeting the research product for its existing TV-movie based clients that already receive other media research products.

A number of other research companies have released estimates of Netflix viewing, all of which came with much derision from Netflix executives.

TV producers typically like having easily accessible viewing research -- despite all the complaints media researchers have had about the likes of Nielsen, and other third party companies, when it comes to process and accuracy.

For Netflix this new tactic could merely be fueling marketing campaign. Also Netflix may be looking to better serve its business partners. Releasing more viewing and other data will curry favor for future original TV and movie deals for the subscription video service, especially with other competitors like Amazon and Hulu growing.

Netflix is looking to offer up its side of story -- research-wise. Not only how it’s disrupting the TV economy, but perhaps what it isn’t doing.

2 comments about "Netflix: Cracking Open Data Doors To Some Of Its Viewers?".
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  1. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston, June 22, 2016 at 4:02 p.m.

    Broadcasters pay for and share research not because they want to but because they have to: They are advertiser-supported. Expecting Netflix to do any more than the minimal is a waste of their resources. Deals for programming are based on dollars, not currying favor. Why should the #1 streaming service take suggestions from anyone?

  2. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, June 22, 2016 at 6:41 p.m.

    I have to agree with you about pleas for more audience info from Netflix, Douglas.Why should Netflix care? However, as Netflix competes with broadcasters and cable channels for viewers and viewing time, it will eventually---and sooner rather than later-----be measured and reported on by Nielsen. In fact, I believe that Nielsen has figured out how to identify Netflix content, which was the main issue, previously. Sorry, Netflix. You may scoff but you won't be able to prevent us from knowing who you are reaching, how often and what specific content attracts your audiences. We will also learn more definitively what else---besides Netflix--- your viewers watch----such findings may be a huge surprise not only for those who think that Netflix is the andetode for TV commercials, but also for Netflix, itself.

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