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There’s A Downside To Not Caring About Nielsen Numbers 10 August 2015

Nielsen Ratings TV VOD

Trusty TV trade reporter Joe Adalian reported, back in 2013, with a chart, that “Sopranos” was  HBO’s best-watched original drama ever, with  over 14 million viewers per episode. But by the next year, “Game of Thrones” replaced “Sopranos” with 18.4 million viewers. Much has been made of the fact that HBO continues to make “Girls,” though it has a pretty measly audience. That small audience is proof to the masses that HBO is so cool it doesn’t haven’t to be popular.

With Netflix and Amazon we know nothing. Repeatedly, Netflix explains how it just can’t say how many people watch their originals.  It could. But it doesn’t. In a very weird, but real way, streaming video–the whole Internet, really–is quite unaccountable. Amazon and Netflix asks viewers what they think. They just never tell you what they’ve been told. Ditto with counting heads, we guess. Or ratings.

“I just feel like the ratings can be a little bit of a distraction,” Amazon Studio’s  Roy Price told  “If someone told you that one novel had outsold another novel by 20% percent, would that make you more likely to read it? It wouldn’t in my case. . . I don’t care that much about that. I guess if you regarded yourself as some sort of super paragon of the mainstream, where mass viewership numbers would always determine your preferences, then that would be super helpful. But I think for most people it’s only semi-useful.”

Not caring too much about being popular has a down side. Creative freedom can be just another phrase for, to badly mangle Janis Joplin, no one there to help you make smart choices.

Fortunately, Hulu only debuted the first two episodes. You have to come back every Wednesday for more, and not sure many will. That’s the other part of not caring about ratings because you’re a pay service: People can stop paying, which turns out to be a budding problem for SVOD.

Read the entire story here.

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