We finally have viewership numbers for some of Netflix’s biggest shows
Nielsen says that it is now able to measure the viewership of Netflix shows, and it has released some numbers for three of the streaming service’s programs.
For years now, nobody has really known how many people watch any given show on Netflix, as these figures are kept a company secret and the ratings are not measured by an outside company. But now Nielsen Holdings, which has been measuring TV ratings for decades and which has become the primary source of information for how many people watch TV, says that it can measure Netflix content.
They have not released a detailed rundown of all of Netflix’s content, but they released viewership figures for The Defenders, House of Cards, and Fuller House. According to NPR, Nielsen says that 6.1 million people watched The Defenders during the first week of its release in August. In addition, they say that the Season 5 premiere of House of Cards earned 4.6 million viewers during its first week of release in May, and Fuller House earned 4.6 million viewers during its first week in September.
For comparison to HBO, Westworld‘s Season 1 premiere averaged 2.2 million viewers, and its season finale averaged 3.6 million viewers, although across all platforms the first season was seen by about 12 million people, according to Deadline. It’s unclear how Netflix’s viewership compares to other streaming services, as these platforms also do not release numbers.
Of course, with services like Netflix and Hulu, viewership figures during a show’s premiere day or even premiere week aren’t quite as important as what that show adds to the value of a subscription. Indeed, Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos told The New York Times this week that these numbers from Nielsen are irrelevant since Netflix relies on subscriptions and not advertising. Netflix has also denied that Nielsen figures are even accurate.
There may be some truth to that, as Nielsen certainly does not have access to the kind of data Netflix does. The way that Nielsen works is that they install boxes in about 40,000 homes across the United States, and they use these boxes to track what people are watching on cable television. For these Netflix ratings, they’re using audio recognition software to determine when people in these Nielsen houses are watching Netflix, according to The New York Times. However, the Netflix ratings only factor in those who are watching from a television, and so those who are watching on a laptop, a tablet, or a mobile device are not included. It also only includes viewers in the United States.
Still, these numbers are interesting to take a look at, especially since it’s the first time we’ve gotten any sense of how many people watch any given Netflix show. Meanwhile, a separate company called Parrot Analytics released a report via IndieWire claiming that the Netflix drama Ozark was the most popular streaming show of the past 90 days, more popular than even Star Trek: Discovery. For their analysis, they also factor in social media enthusiasm.
Nielsen is expected to release more information about the viewership of Netflix titles in the future. When they do, we’ll finally find out whether Stranger Things, Orange is the New Black, House of Cards, Ozark or something else is the most popular show on Netflix.