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Netflix ‘ratings war’

A lot of people would like to know how many users watch what on Netflix. The fact they won’t say – but do certain claims for some shows – is getting some competitors riled.

Last week NBC exec Alan Wurtzel revealed supposed estimated viewership information for several of Netflix’s original shows that premiered in the second half of 2015. According to findings from analytics company Symphony Advanced Media (SAM), Marvel’s Jessica Jones averaged 4.8 million viewers between the ages of 18 and 49 in the first 35 days after its November debut; Master of None had 3.9 million such viewers during a similar time window; and Narcos attracted 3.2 million viewers in that demographic. NBC said this showed Netflix had a draw profile similar to premium cable nets like Showtime and HBO.

However, Ted Sandaros, Netflix’s chief content officer, has rubbished the figures: “Ratings have no specific impact on [our] business….Unlike every [other channel] you can cancel Netflix with a click. I do think that once we give a number for a show, every show will be benchmarked off that figure. That puts a lot of creative pressure on talent that I don’t want to.”

On  NBC’s findings, Sarandos said:  “The methodology and the measurement and the data itself doesn’t reflect any sense of reality of anything that we keep track of. …I hope no one’s paying for it,” he added of the data, which he said was “really remarkably inaccurate”.

Sarandos also said that breaking down figures by age demographics was meaningless to Netflix, since unlike NBC it does not carry ads. “I can’t even tell you how many 18-49 year-old members that we have,” said Sarandos. “It means nothing to Netflix.”

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