BARB, the UK’s broadcaster-founded TV measurement body, has today announced that Netflix has signed up to its measurement service. The move marks a significant step for the streaming giant in opening up to outside measurement – BARB says it is the first industry-owned audience currency in the world which Netflix has joined.
BARB began releasing audience data for Netflix and other subscription video on-demand (SVOD) services last year, though without these services’ cooperation. This lack of cooperation however limited BARB’s ability to measure and identify all SVOD viewing, and this data was only available to BARB’s underwriting organisations and those with a special license.
However conversations which began three years ago have now brought Netflix on board. “Back in 2019, at the RTS conference in Cambridge, I welcomed the idea of Netflix audiences being measured independently,” said Reed Hastings, co-CEO of Netflix. “We’ve kept in touch with BARB since then and are pleased to make a commitment to its trusted measurement of how people watch television in the UK.”
With Netflix now signed up, BARB will begin reporting Netflix viewing data every day at both a service and a programme level to its clients, in the same way that viewing on its other signed up channels and services is reported. This is part of a wider expansion of BARB’s SVOD measurement, as it will extend its weekly reporting of the top 50 shows to include shows across all linear channels and SVOD service providers.
“Our audience measurement continuously adapts to accommodate the new platforms and devices that are being used by people to watch their favourite television shows,” said Justin Sampson, chief executive of BARB. “We took a big step forward last year when we started reporting audiences to streaming services. Netflix’s commitment to BARB sends a clear signal that what we’re doing is valuable to new and established players in the market.”
A step in the right direction
Since launch, Netflix’s tendency has been to release viewing data as and when it’s been convenient for its own purposes.
For a long time any sort of measurement, let alone independent measurement, was hard to come by. Up until a few years ago, all Netflix released was sporadic press releases about viewing figures for specific shows.
While this wasn’t a problem for advertisers, given Netflix hasn’t historically run ads, it has been problematic for studios and media owners when it comes to calculating the value of content which they’ve licensed or sold to Netflix.
This changed last year, when Netflix opened up viewing data via a weekly ‘Top Ten’ dashboard, which shows total hours viewed each week for the top ten shows and top ten films in each specific market. Now, this new deal with BARB will open up viewing data even further.
The big question, however, will be whether this measurement will extend to Netflix’ advertising product when that’s released. BARB would need Netflix’s further cooperation on that front, since only a yet-to-be-seen fraction of Netflix’s total viewing hours will feature ads.
Yesterday Netflix announced Integral Ad Science and DoubleVerify as its first measurement partners – but these are both specialists in viewability, brand safety measurement, and fraud detection, rather than trading currencies. A deal with BARB would likely go a long way in convincing ad land that Netflix is willing to play by its rules and offer transparency, rather than simply asking advertisers to pay high CPMs without any offer of independent measurement.