We now know Netflix’s secret information on TV show ratings

It’s no secret that streaming platforms like Netflix are taking over TV. The buzz around Netflix original series like Jessica Jones, Daredevil, Master of None, and Narcos is undeniable. Plus, their presence in virtually every award show category over the last few years proves that Netflix is on fire. The company’s shows are always top-notch quality, and the service gives viewers ultimate control over their TV show watching in the form of “bingeing.”

But how are Netflix shows actually rating when it comes to viewership? They’ve been tight-lipped about just how many people are pressing play on their original series. Traditional TV networks (who are subject to Nielson ratings) haven’t been so keen on Netflix keeping their ratings a secret.

NBC decided to get to the bottom of it. At the recent Television Critics Association, NBC’s president of research and media development, Alan Wurtzel, presented what he believes are fairly accurate ratings for Netflix series. Wurtzel reports they used a company called Symphony to gather the ratings of multiple streaming series. But how, you ask? Symphony compiles viewership data by using “audio content recognition technology”. This means the company’s software is loaded on to users’ phones and can track how many people are watching something by recognizing a show’s soundtrack. Only a tad bit creepy …

Wurzel’s purpose was to discover how much of an effect streaming programs are having on traditional networks. On the accuracy of the data collecting software, he says, “This is in beta. I think they’re valid. They give you a sense of what the size is — whether it’s 4.4 million or 4.2 million, I don’t think [it] matters.”

What they found was that traditional network shows like NBC’s Blindspot and The Voice still trump streaming shows in the ratings department. According to Wurtzel’s data, from September through December 2015, Marvel’s Jessica Jones averaged 4.8 million viewers, Narcos averaged 3.2 million viewers, and Master of None had 3.9 million viewers. The data was gathered from a sample of 15,000 users.

Can the results truly be trusted as completely accurate, though? Who really knows? It will be interesting to see what numbers come up when Netflix heavy-hitters like Orange is the New Black and House of Cards make their return.

(Image via Netflix.)

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