Commentary

Streaming Viewing Data Is Helpful To Platforms, Advertisers

Right now, Nielsen doesn’t publish regular viewing data for TV series and movies streaming on HBO Max. It also doesn’t do this for many other streamers. Does that matter?

Nielsen and HBO Max need to agree on releasing the data, sources tell TV Watch. There is no time line yet. Still, Nielsen and HBO Max have recently agreed -- in a limited way -- with the release of “Wonder Woman 1984.”

In January, Nielsen says there were 2.25 billion minutes of the movie viewed in its first weekend in December on HBO Max -- a movie that was also concurrently released theatrically.

Publicly released viewing data matters to those that have produced highly viewed TV shows/movies -- content that needs promotion to gain subscribers. At the same time, if streaming content is available on ad-supported platforms, that information would be helpful for potential advertisers to know.

Through its new streaming video ratings service, where roughly 10,000 to 15,000 streaming meters are installed in homes, Nielsen publishes just a handful of streamers platforms: Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, and Disney+.

This isn’t to say streamers don’t have access to this information. Streaming platform servers have that data
-- in many cases detailed viewing information.

Streamers recognize the value of viewing data by the industry -- and the need for more granular information.

For example, Netflix has determined this. Now, rather than just releasing -- on a semi-regular basis -- data from Netflix “accounts” that viewed a specific piece of content, it says in the future, it will offer “hours viewed.”

This would seem to follow Nielsen -- where the media research firm offers top 10 lists of original, acquired, and movie content in terms of billion of minutes viewed.

In the past, individual TV networks have made specific moves regarding TV viewing data on their own networks they didn’t want to see published.

In the mid-1990s, MTV didn’t believe it was getting a fair shake from Nielsen for its panel estimate concerning its young-skewing viewing numbers. For a time, it stopped subscribing to the service.

More recently, CNBC did the same, dropping Nielsen in 2015, because it believed traders, business executives and others were under-reported in Nielsen estimates, based on home TV set technology.

But all this didn’t stop Nielsen from measuring data. Nor did it mean TV networks' competitors, as well as media agencies buying media for their advertisers, stopped using it.

In a tweet earlier this year, Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix, said in response to Nielsen’s data showing 26% of TV time now is spent streaming, the business needs to count HBO Max, as well.

When you are looking to promote a still nascent streaming TV industry, everything counts.

2 comments about "Streaming Viewing Data Is Helpful To Platforms, Advertisers".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, October 28, 2021 at 9:34 a.m.

    Wayne, as I'm sure you realize, the main reason why TV program sources/channels/networks don't want their audience numbers published are that they are not as high as would be liked by the party involved. However, I'm pretty sure that Nielsen tries to measure all streaming content and will supply "rating" information to its subscribers whether a particular channel likes it or not. Of course if the findings for a low rated show are based on too small a sample that may not be reported, specifically, but it's still possible to tabulate a weekly reach and frequency for low rated channels---which uses a much larger base as it applies to all of the channel's shows in aggregate. In that way, subscribers can get a fairly good idea of what the channle's average minute ratings are---even if not for a given episode----as well as what kinds of people are watching.

  2. John Grono from GAP Research, October 28, 2021 at 4:25 p.m.

    Spot on Ed.

    Large streamers should be able to report on their tent-pole content, while smaller streamers should be able to aggregate their content for reach and average programme time.   A good media buyer would be able to work with that with confidence.

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