Nielsen, the company that measures TV audiences, will begin offering data on viewing by Netflix Inc. and Amazon Prime subscribers for the first time starting midyear, Chief Executive Officer Mitch Barns said Tuesday.
“That will be the last significant portion of overall television content viewing that we don’t already measure,” Barns said in an interview with Bloomberg. “We really will have a full set of capabilities in the market to measure what we call the total audience across all screens, devices and platforms.”
Netflix and Amazon.com Inc. have been unwilling to share what their subscribers watch. That’s given them leverage in negotiations for movies and reruns, and made it hard for TV networks to assess the value of past hits or determine if streaming is hurting traditional viewing.
To help them figure that out, New York-based Nielsen has been testing technology that measures Netflix and Amazon audiences by listening to shows and sharing the results with select clients. Nielsen set-top boxes capture the data for the company. It doesn’t work for original Netflix shows like “House of Cards.”
Netflix, based in Los Gatos, California, declined 3.1 percent to $424.67 at 12:33 p.m. in New York. The stock had gained 28 percent this year through Tuesday. Nielsen gained 1 percent to $43.69 and was down 3.3 percent for the year.
Netflix has long said it doesn’t need to reveal viewer data because it doesn’t sell ads or pay fees to cable operators.
“Collecting ratings on streaming services is an outdated mode of doing business,” said Cliff Edwards, a Netflix spokesman. Amazon, based in Seattle, didn’t respond to a request for comment.
The growth in streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime has coincided with a drop in live television viewing, especially among the young. The number of U.S. homes with subscription streaming services jumped to 41 percent from 36 percent a year earlier, according to Nielsen’s Total Audience Report released last week.
To reach younger audiences, CBS Corp., Time Warner Inc. and Dish Network Corp. are offering online video packages that don’t require a cable TV subscription. Fans of the most-watched TV network can buy CBS All Access for $5.99 a month in some areas. Next month, Time Warner’s HBO will begin selling an Web-only service with Apple Inc. for $14.99
Netflix has more than 57 million members worldwide, including more than 39 million in the U.S. Amazon Prime has about 40 million members, according to a recent estimate by ChannelAdvisor Corp., an e-commence company based in North Carolina.