Nielsen to begin measuring Netflix and Amazon viewership

Research company Nielsen will begin measuring the audiences of major SVOD services like Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX) and Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN), providing programmers insight into how much their content is being streamed for the first time.

Nielsen will conduct this research without the consent of these SVOD companies starting in December by measuring the audio streams of content delivered over the Internet. The news was first reported by the Wall Street Journal, which obtained documents sent by Nielsen to its programmer and advertiser clients.

The tally won't be comprehensive--technological limitations restrict Nielsen from gathering data streamed over mobile networks. But with programmers flying blind as they negotiate with fast-growing Netflix, which doesn't release audience data, it's a start.

"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 [video on demand]?" said Brian Fuhrer, a senior vice president at Nielsen, told the WSJ.

Nielsen's decision to measure subscription online video usage comes as the sector is being blamed for an 8 percent year-over-year drop in linear TV viewership by adults 18-49 in the third quarter.

"You are taking viewers out of the ad-supported universe and putting them into the non-ad-supported universe," said Sanford C. Bernstein analyst Todd Juenger. "I don't see how that's good for the economic health of the content industry."

For more:
- read this Wall Street Journal story
- read this Deadline Hollywood story

Related links:
Nielsen teams with Adobe, tries to finally get cross-platform measurement right
Juenger: SVOD leading cause of 4 percent fall TV ratings drop
Comcast and Nielsen to track mobile video ad ratings