Netflix says one of its shows will pull in 40 million viewers. John Landgraf, CEO, FX Networks says no way.
Now you know why third-party measurements of TV and video content are so important.
Netflix claims its “You” series, coming off of Lifetime, was tracking to be viewed by over 40 million member homes at the end of its first four weeks.
This from a tweet on January 17 (with an accompanying photo): “Joe isn't the only one watching: @YouNetflix is on track to be viewed by more than 40 million members in its first four weeks on Netflix!”
Landgraf, speaking at the Television Critics Association, said don’t believe it. It’s more like 8 million.
He says Netflix “does not follow the universally understood television metric, the one you and prior generations of reporters have been using through their whole careers, which is average audience.” Well, maybe he meant average minute audience.
Netflix hasn’t responded in kind. For example, that FX Network’s “American Horror Show” only has 500,000 viewers. Nielsen says its average minute audience was 2 million viewers last season.
Surely, there are ample complaints about panel-based TV measurement companies in an age of server-based TV platforms like Netflix. But we only have Netflix’s word here, and not much granular detail beyond that 40 million number.
This is why, whatever the process, there is a need, in addition to other first-party data, to have third-party metrics, whether panel-based, census-based or otherwise.
Netflix biggest argument against releasing much of its viewing details is that it doesn’t sell TV advertising -- which is how much of Nielsen’s data is used.
Despite Netflix's scant efforts, there’s no doubt big-time TV producers and studios would like to see any regular Netflix viewing data for programming, especially WarnerMedia, NBCUniversal or Walt Disney, which might sell content to the digital video platform.
For a long time, Netflix has been reluctant to release much of this viewing data, an effort to control future content negotiations.
You think things will get easier? Now we have Netflix moving to produce and controll its own original content, while traditional TV/movie studio companies ramp up direct-to-consumer digital efforts to compete.
Decades ago HBO, as a premium cable channel, was also reluctant to release viewing data. But it evolved, realizing the marketing potential to promote value to cable operators, satellite and telco providers -- and consumers.
That last part -- consumers -- will be what concerns Netflix. (So will Oscar and Emmy hardware.)
We realize still growing broadband (and future 5G) providers, coming from cable operators and telecommunications, are the future middlemen when it comes Netflix’s business efforts.
Will they ask -- or demand -- to see Netflix’ viewing metrics in deciding the value of the video service in the future?