News flash: Netflix is NOT killing television
It's hurting it for sure, but viewership equates to a mid-size cable network
March 4, 2016
The buzz over Netflix right now is deafening.
People will point to all this attention, and they’ll note the slowly declining ratings on broadcast and cable, and they’ll say that Netflix is doing them in.
But buzz can be deceiving.
While you’d think with all that attention that Netflix’ audience would rival that of the broadcast networks, that’s really not the case, according to a new report from MoffettNathanson.
Not only is Netflix’ viewership relatively modest, but it’s also not causing the demise of traditional television.
So argues Michael Nathanson, an analyst at the research group.
“Currently, Netflix is a source of industry pain, but not necessarily a cause of industry death,” he writes.
Nathanson compares the streaming service to a mid-sized cable network. He says its viewership would equal roughly 6 percent of traditional TV hours, up from 4 percent just two years ago – so no denying it’s growing.
But Nathanson says Netflix is to blame for only about half of the decrease in traditional TV hours last year.
And actually, in some households, especially those with young people, viewers consume more traditional television when they subscribe to Netflix.
The mystery surrounding Netflix’ viewing numbers drives quite a bit of curiosity about the SVOD service.
Netflix refuses to give out actual viewership numbers, releasing only some raw data that analysts and networks mine in an attempt to figure out where it ranks versus traditional television.
That’s led to some widely varying estimates.
Turner recently released a study that suggested Netflix would be the No. 1 network if it aired on TV.
But an earlier NBC study suggested its ratings would be more modest.
So the mystery continues.
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