Netflix’s UK ratings will (finally) be tracked independently

UK residents have universal health care, The Great British Baking Showand, soon, something else the rest of the world will envy: daily third-party ratings for Netflix shows. The US-based streaming giant has officially joined the Broadcasters Audience Research Board, which means starting next month, its shows will be included in the company’s daily and weekly reports. of ratings that estimate how many viewers are watching various networks and platforms, as well as individuals. titles It feels like a potential turning point, one that could lead to much greater data transmission transparency in other big markets around the world, including the US.

Here in the United States, Nielsen offers a clue as to how broadcast shows are performing with certain audiences. It publishes a weekly tally of the top ten shows and movies measured by millions of minutes consumed in a week on home platforms (mobile and handheld viewing not included, so good luck knowing what Gen Z is watching). While there’s definitely utility in those numbers, they’re presented in a very different way than traditional ratings and aren’t easily comparable: Nielsen doesn’t publicly report the average audience size for shows, for example, or what percentage of daily viewership is it availabe. the audience conveyed something. Also, Nielsen’s streaming data takes a full month to compile, so when we look at a show’s performance, the information already feels a bit dated.

But the BARB numbers should be much more useful. For one thing, it will air a daily snapshot of how Netflix’s overall service and its various shows performed among UK audiences over the previous 24 hours, in exactly the same way it measures the viewing of its 300-plus other linear and based shows. in transmission. members BARB has been measuring and reporting streaming data since last November, with Amazon Prime Video and Disney+ both subscribers. Last month, for example, he reported that the fourth episode of Disney + she-hulk Was seen by 1.61 million UK viewers in its first week of release, while Thor: love and thunder it was viewed by 2.2 million during that same period. BARB has also had numbers for Netflix since last year, but because Netflix wasn’t a client, it didn’t regularly report on how its shows were doing. However, when their new broadcast ratings were released, BARB revealed that their ratings showed that squid game was the 10th most watched program in the UK for the month of October 2021, with 5.8 million viewers, some 3 million fewer than the Great British Bake, which is seen there on UK broadcaster Channel 4 (and has a slightly different name).

Now that Netflix is ​​a customer, we’ll likely get a regular stream of numbers for their shows. For example, BARB says that last month the streamer was the fourth most-watched platform in the UK, behind the BBC, ITV and Channel 4, but ahead of pay network Sky TV and linear network Channel 5 (owned by Paramount). Global). With Netflix included, we’ll now get a consistent picture of how much viewing time, and other streamers, are stealing from linear platforms and how viewing habits change each month.

And yet, don’t expect to know how every Netflix show is doing, and certainly not on a daily basis. Like Nielsen, BARB makes only a small portion of its data available to the public every day, and when it comes to individual titles, the company typically reveals just 50 of the most-watched titles in any given day, week, or month. Because the streaming audience is less concentrated (people watch when they want to rather than during a scheduled time), it means that even some notable Netflix titles might not appear in a single day’s counts overnight. Instead, as with Prime and Disney+, we’ll likely see the streamer’s biggest shows show up first in weekly and then monthly reports.

In a press release announcing the BARB deal, Netflix co-CEO Reed Hastings sounded like a man who has long been open to third-party measurement of his platform, though, well…no. has always been so enthusiastic. “In 2019, at the RTS conference in Cambridge, I welcomed the idea of ​​Netflix audiences being measured independently,” Hastings said. “We have kept in touch with BARB ever since and are pleased to commit to their reliable measurement of how people watch TV in the UK.” What hasn’t been said is what has changed since 2019, which is that Netflix has abandoned its dogmatic opposition to advertising that appears on the service, and will begin offering a limited ad-limited level of service as early as January 1. November in some markets (including the US). and the United Kingdom), according to a report in August The Wall Street Journal. That means advertisers will want to know who’s watching what on the service and how often, so they can negotiate prices for their ads. While Hastings might have been philosophically open to eventually accepting outside eyes measuring Netflix, the launch of the ad makes such third-party data of some sort almost inevitable.

And that leaves a big question: Now that Netflix has made a deal with BARB, where are the US and Nielsen? Nielsen has worked hard to expand its streaming ratings, both in terms of the products it offers customers and what it reports to the public. Advertisers here will surely want more data too, so it seems logical that there will be more third-party measurements of Netflix content in the US coming soon. Stay tuned.

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