Nielsen plans to start measuring SVOD services next month for the first time, The Wall Street Journal reports, citing the company’s client documents. Nielsen meters can measure viewership without the OK from Netflix, Amazon Prime and the like — by analyzing a program’s audio components to identify which shows are being streamed. Netflix and Amazon, which don’t disclose viewership for their programs, did not comment for the report. Nielsen’s new plan could offer the first solid numbers for such online-only series as Netflix’s House Of Cards and Orange Is The New Black and Amazon’s Alpha House.
“Our clients will be able to look at their programs and understand: Is putting content on Netflix impacting the viewership on linear and traditional VOD?” Brian Fuhrer, SVP National & Cross-Platform Product Leader, told the paper.
The news follows grumbling from content owners that there’s no way to measure consumption of their properties online. The audio-monitoring idea doesn’t address that issue, WSJ says, and Nielsen has been slow to count to the increasing viewership on mobile and tablets. Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman laid into Nielsen last week, announcing a major effort to make Viacom less dependent on the ratings company to measure its audiences.
WSJ says the Nielsen documents also contain strong data suggesting that time spent on streaming services is cannibalizing traditional television viewing. Late last month, Bernstein Research analyst Todd Juenger issued a compelling report saying that big media shot itself in the foot by selling shows to Netflix. Juenger is alarmed by what he calls the “unprecedented” drop in C3 ratings across ad-supported TV, especially among the key 18-49 demographic. “We don’t think those viewers are coming back,” he wrote. “The trend is more likely to accelerate than decline.”