Nielsen will tell clients who’s watching on Netflix and other streaming video services

Millie Bobby Brown appears in a scene from the Netflix series "Stranger Things."
Millie Bobby Brown appears in a scene from the Netflix series “Stranger Things.”

Audience measurement company Nielsen will offer networks and studios data on who is watching programs on streaming video-on-demand services such as Netflix.

While Nielsen has tracked streaming and on-demand content since 2014, the new service announced Wednesday will for the first time give clients online viewership information about their own shows and movies and the programming of their competitors.

The growth of streaming and on-demand services “has created demand from rights owners to understand the size and composition of audiences relative to other programs and platforms,” Megan Clarken, president of Nielsen’s Watch division, said in a statement.

Seeing how other programs are faring could help networks and studios in negotiating deals with streaming services. Netflix, Hulu and Amazon have become a major revenue source for the television production business, which has seen its output of scripted programs double over the last 10 years.


Executives who sell their programming to Netflix have said the company shares information on how many subscribers watch their shows, but the data have been provided confidentially.

The data will also uncover how many people are watching Netflix originals such as “Stranger Things” and “House of Cards.” Netflix and other streaming companies have never publicly revealed the sizes of their audiences for specific programs, whereas TV ratings for broadcast and cable network content are widely distributed and reported on in the media.

The secretiveness has largely insulated Netflix and other streaming companies from the scrutiny that usually comes with the decision to renew or cancel programs. Netflix and similar services can declare a series a hit without showing data to back it up — a source of frustration for broadcast and cable executives who have to account for their ratings.

“It drives some people here nuts how they’ve been able to declare their shows a success,” said one network executive who spoke on the condition of anonymity because his company has a business relationship with Netflix.

Companies that subscribe to the new service from Nielsen will now be able to tout their streaming ratings in press releases — and also give comparisons on how they perform versus other streamed programming.

The change will also allow program makers to tout the total viewership for their content across all platforms. While live TV viewing has declined, network executives have asserted that many of their programs are more than making up those losses on streaming services.

Nielsen is already collecting data on programs streamed by Netflix, the largest subscription video-on-demand service with more than 50 million subscribers. Data for services such as Hulu and Amazon are expected to be available next year.

Nielsen said in a statement that A&E Networks, Disney-ABC, Lionsgate, NBCUniversal, Warner Bros. and others have already signed on to subscribe to its service.


Twitter: @SteveBattaglio


2:45 p.m.: This article was updated to include comment from Megan Clarken, president of Nielsen’s Watch division.


This article was originally published at 10:45 a.m.