The Nielsen ratings system is the end-all be-all measurement for television viewership. Not only does it help networks decide if a show is successful or not, but it also helps those networks sell advertising.
Previously, Nielsen ignored subscription video on demand (SVOD) services, such as Netflix and Amazon Video, when compiling ratings.
However, with these SVOD services becoming more popular than ever, as well as offering their own original content, Nielsen announced today that these services will now be measured for viewership numbers.
This announcement is a game-changer. Previously, when networks go to the business table with a service such as Netflix for negotiating terms for streaming their programs, the numbers they see come directly from that service. Now, though, the numbers will be impartial, coming directly from Nielsen, which accurately reflects viewing habits from these services.
Netflix, however, is vocal about the need not to release their viewership data, citing the reason that their service isn't supported by advertising. The company is even secretive about its viewership numbers, particularly with its original content, such as House of Cards and Orange Is The New Black.
However, these new measurements could help shows that aren't getting good numbers with live viewing, but have good viewership later on with SVOD. Higher Nielsen numbers on Amazon and Netflix could mean the difference in saving or canceling a show, although, let's face it, Netflix is making a habit of picking up canceled shows for additional seasons anyway.
Streaming video services are becoming more popular than ever with over 40 percent of U.S. households subscribing to one or more services, with Netflix accounting for the majority of that viewership. Because of that, more people are watching those services than traditional TV.
However, there are limits with these new Nielsen measurements of SVOD: viewership on mobile devices are not tracked. And although the organization is already tracking Hulu, that's only on desktop computers, and not on other devices. So many might argue that this still doesn't go far enough in keeping up with modern TV viewership habits.
Nielsen will start measuring SVOD viewership next month. The boxes in Nielsen households will come with audio tools allowing for the identification of streamed shows. The technology sounds archaic, but then again, it's something.
Nielsen is trying to keep up with the modern age. It also now tracks DVR viewing and follows trends on Facebook and Twitter.
[Photo Credit: Lionsgate Television/Netflix]