Netflix, Inc. Threat To TV Overhyped: Nielsen

Netflix, Inc. Threat To TV Overhyped: Nielsen

Netflix taking over TV and other similar threats are vastly overstated, believes the global media boss of TV rating provider Nielsen, commenting in a report from The Herald. Following Netflix’s success in Australia, TV broadcasters expect ratings to be impacted, but the Nielsen executive believes it will not be as big a deal as expected.

Confusion over digital and TV ratings

Steve Hasker, president of Nielsen’s media unit, said forecasts that TV is getting killed from digital video streaming are overhyped. Supporting his views, Hasker said that in the U.S., video streaming on the mobile and PC is just 1.5% of the time Americans spend watching broadcast TV each day. He added that the confusion is mainly due to people bluntly comparing the gross number of online views with the actual time people spend with broadcast content.

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During a visit to Australia, Hasker told The Australian Financial Review that there is “tremendous confusion” over what the digital video is in reality, adding if you ask media buyer about what is going on in TV, they will say ‘oh, digital video – it’s growing fast, whereas TV ratings are coming down’.”

Nielsen working to clear the confusion

Hasker noted that TV rating depends on audience numbers, and digital broadcasters talk about total views. To clear up the confusion, Hasker said they are working around the idea of total audience metrics, so that the people can understand how big a digital video service actually is relative to TV.

TV broadcasters have struggled with more devices and viewing options as traditional TV ratings only cover TV sets viewing habits. However, in reality, broadcaster content is being increasingly watched on smartphones, tablets and computers. Ttaking this into consideration, Nielsen is now working to measure performance across all video channels and devices in the US.

Netflix impact on TV ratings is not permanent

Hasker also noted that the headline ratings for U.S. TV broadcasters have come down in the last two years, with many blaming subscription video on demand services (SVOD) such as Netflix, instead of connecting it to the online viewing of short and long form content. For example, some TV networks like CBS and ESPN have seen a spike in their ratings, and also prime-time and live sport ratings for TV have been impressive.

Hasker said Netflix, which has around 40 million subscribers, impacted TV viewing midway through 2014. Unlike the traditional broadcasting, Netflix allowed users more control along with an ad-free experience. This helped to push TV ratings down, Hasker said. But he notes that the decline in the TV ratings were “not all year round,” adding It’s not every day and it’s not every genre.”

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Aman is MBA (Finance) with an experience on both Marketing and Finance side. He has worked as a Risk Analyst for AIR Worldwide, and is currently leading VeRa FinServ, a Financial Research firm. Favorite pastimes include watching science fiction movies, reviewing tech gadgets, playing PC games and cricket. - Email him at
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