At the start of 2016, NBC attempted to find out Netflix's secret ratings for their most popular shows. Netflix basically said, “Nice try, bro” and continued business as usual. But the streaming service has finally decided to throw us all a bone by releasing the premiere numbers for Orange Is the New Black.
Alan Wurtzel, NBCU president of research and media development, thought he had cracked Netflix's numbers in January with help from tech firm Symphony. Not only was it an odd thing to do, but the numbers also came from an opt-in app with an incredibly low user base that used audio content recognition technology and the soundtrack of a show to determine what people were watching. Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos called it “remarkably inaccurate” and said that it “doesn”t reflect any sense of reality of anything that we keep track of.”
But a new report from Variety out of the Consumer 360 conference in Las Vegas reveals Netflix wanted to draw back the curtain, if only a little.
Nielsen provided viewership numbers for a handful of streaming shows, including Netflix original series “Orange is the New Black.” According to the measurement service, 6.7 million people watched the show”s season-four premiere from June 17, when it debuted on the service, through June 19. Over the same period, 5.9 million people watched the season”s second episode.
That places “Orange” in the same league as the most watched shows on cable for the same week. In Nielsen live-plus-three ratings, the June 19 episode of HBO”s “Game of Thrones” was cable”s most watched show with 10.4 million total viewers. The June 13 season premiere of TNT”s “Major Crimes” ranked second with 5.8 million.
Also in comparison, NBC's Blindspot had an average of 6.9 million viewers over the course of its first season.
Nielsen starting tracking this information for Netflix as well as Hulu last year but this is the first time Netflix agreed to make the data public. The Wall Street Journal also noted:
Nielsen”s effort to measure streaming TV has been controversial. Netflix has argued that ratings for shows on its service have little meaning, since it doesn”t sell advertising. And the streaming juggernaut has said comparisons to traditional TV are difficult, since online viewing is all on-demand and stretches over longer time frames. Netflix”s service is global, and Nielsen”s figures only reflect U.S. viewing.
But they add the information could be helpful to studios who are working with streaming services over licensing fees for their shows.