Netflix Refutes NBC's "Remarkably Inaccurate" Ratings For Their Shows

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NBC is known as the Peacock Network, but it is Netflix that did some peacocking of their own at the Television Critics Association’s press tour in Pasadena on Sunday morning.

Because Netflix is a streaming network, measuring the ratings their programs receive is difficult for a third-party independent. Netflix likes to keep mum on how many and how often people stream their shows, but recently NBCUniversal’s head of research, Alan Wurtzel, provided ratings estimates for a handful of Netflix's original series. Those figures included Marvel's Jessica Jones, which supposedly averaged 4.8M viewers in the key 18-49 demographic.

That didn't sit well with Neflix, and its chief content officer, Ted Sarandos, fired back. "So there’s a couple of mysteries in play for me," Sarandos began (via Entertainment Weekly). "One is why would NBC use their lunchtime [press conference] to talk about our ratings. Maybe cause it’s more fun to talk [about] than NBC’s ratings. The second is, the whole methodology and the measurement and the data itself doesn’t reflect any sense of reality of anything that we keep track of. That could be because 18-49 year old viewing is so insignificant to us. I can’t even tell you how many 18-49 members we have. We don’t track them. It’s an advertising-driven demographic that means nothing to us. I don’t know why anybody would be spending so much energy and time and given what I believe is remarkably inaccurate data … I don’t understand the methodology of it. The outputs don’t reflect any reality that we track."

Sarandos believes traditional networks focus far too much on week-to-week ratings, which can put undue pressure on the talent. "There’s a very natural inclination to say, relative to this show, this [other] show’s a failure," he said. "That puts a lot of pressure on the talent that we don’t want … if we turn it into a weekly arms race by doing box scores for every [Nielsen-issued ratings report, we’re] going to have the same result as it’s had on [traditional] television, which I think has been remarkably negative in terms of the quality of shows."

Daredevil season 2 arrives on Netflix March 18, 2016.

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13 Comments

  1. Sooo, where's the part where they actually "refuted" anything? All I see is a few quips against NBC. Does Netflix keep track of the viewers, or don't they? Is the number that NBC gave accurate, or isn't it? It's really not that hard. And until Netflix actually provides numbers, then I see no reason to doubt NBC, despite however they came by them.

    • Stormkith
    • 21 Posts in 15 Months

    Netflix makes it very clear that they keep track of numbers that are very different from the typical Nielsen ratings demographics. They've said repeatedly they don't care about the same things that a network cares about because they don't have to worry about advertisers. And they have a point: their product isn't driven by ratings. It's driven by total numbers of viewers. That's all that matters for a subscription service.

  2. Stormkith said ... (original post)

    Netflix makes it very clear that they keep track of numbers that are very different from the typical Nielsen ratings demographics. They've said repeatedly they don't care about the same things that a network cares about because they don't have to worry about advertisers. And they have a point: their product isn't driven by ratings. It's driven by total numbers of viewers. That's all that matters for a subscription service.

    People keep deflecting to make this about ratings, when that's not what NBC said. They gave a specific number of viewers for the Marvel Netflix stuff, and it's 4.8M. That has nothing to do with the Nielson ratings.

    And if this number is true, then Marvel's Netflix stuff--which is supposed to be a big draw for the service--isn't doing all that well.

    • VanGoghX
    • 39 Posts in 6 Months

    MANHUNTER77 said ... (original post)

    And if this number is true, then Marvel's Netflix stuff--which is supposed to be a big draw for the service--isn't doing all that well.

    It seems to be doing well enough that Netflix has chosen to go ahead with second seasons of both Jessica Jones and Daredevil.

    I think NBC's numbers are based on polls, rumours, and a healthy dose of guesswork.

  3. VanGoghX said ... (original post)

    It seems to be doing well enough that Netflix has chosen to go ahead with second seasons of both Jessica Jones and Daredevil.

    I think NBC's numbers are based on polls, rumours, and a healthy dose of guesswork.

    That's quite fine, but as I said, how they came up with the numbers is irrelevant, since Netflix didn't refute the numbers.

    Also, "well enough" is subjective. ABC keeps AoShit on the air, even though it's canceled other shows with better numbers in the past. I think Marvel wants to compete with other franchises that have found success on TV, which is why they are attempting to expand their TV presence, despite mediocre numbers.

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