Yes, it’s true: Netflix ratings are finally here—for paying customers, anyway. Nielsen  announced that it now offers Netflix ratings to customers. While Netflix doesn’t run commercials, this could help content owners understand how often their licensed shows and movies are viewed on the service.
“For the first time we’re bringing transparency across to non-linear viewing of audiences to services such as Netflix,” explained Kelly Abcarian, senior vice president of product management at Nielsen, speaking at the Advanced Advertising Summit in New York City. “That transparency is very critical for our media owners and studio houses who are working in which to understand the audience sizes to this content. When they go to the negotiation table, they have data that enables them to empower their decision-making process. When they’re looking at windowing of those audiences across different distribution windows, different distribution platforms, they have that complete view of the audience.”
To get its ratings, Nielsen is relying on auto recognition software installed in 44,000 U.S. homes. Licensed titles have a digital tag inserted into them that allows Nielsen to determine where the video originated. Nielsen first tried this approach in October 2015, when it gave a first look at its Total Audience Measurement tool. At the time, it relied on audio files provided by clients to create an audio fingerprint of select shows. It no longer needs clients to provide those files, and is able to monitor a broader range of content.
The Netflix ratings will provide the same information Nielsen offers for TV shows, including audience per minute, but reporting the data will take a week. Customers signed up so far include Disney ABC Television Group, A&E Networks, Lionsgate, NBCUniversal, and Warner Bros. Nielsen plans to expand its measurements to other subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) services, such as Amazon Prime and Hulu, in 2018.
While the industry will no doubt welcome transparency about Netflix performance, questions about accuracy have already cropped up. Nielsen’s service will only monitor TV streaming, and many Netflix subscribers use computers or mobile devices. Also, the numbers will only reflect viewing in the U.S., at a time when Netflix is quickly expanding overseas.
“At the end of the day, everyone wants to understand that total content consumption , because as the ecosystem evolves and viewing behavior changes you could see advertising mix and the non-advertising platforms transition over to advertise-supported platforms,” Abcarian said. “So really, understanding the best opportunity for content owners and creators to monetize those valuable assets is really the transparency that our clients have asked for.”
Watch the full interview below, courtesy of Beet.tv.