comScore Plans to Make Netflix Numbers Public

Look out Netflix, comScore has your number.

Audience measurement company comScore's plans to offer cross-media ratings by the fall include letting everyone know how many people are watching Netflix’s shows.

As a subscription service, Netflix has refused to divulge any viewership numbers. It has claimed that its originals, including House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black are among the most popular shows on TV, but if it has evidence, it’s not sharing.

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That could end soon because now that it has acquired TV ratings company Rentrak, comScore is creating what it calls Whole Home Panels, which will collect information about viewing done on every digital device in the home.

Using its home panels, it will capture Netflix viewing, something Nielsen, the dominant ratings source, has only begun to attempt.

“The technology that we are rolling up to the panel will enable the measurement of over-the-top services like Netflix and Amazon Prime with title-level information,” said comScore CEO Serge Matta on the company’s earnings call with analysts Wednesday. “The rollout of this technology is expected to be complete in Q3 of this year and will then be incorporated in our Cross Media insights.”

Matta said using the panels will augment the data it gets from set-top boxes.

“it’s privacy friendly, it will fill in some of the holes that we don’t specifically have directly from the operators or from the content providers,” Matta said. “So for example, the one of the biggest holes that it will fill and what we mentioned earlier in this call is the hole of measuring at the title level i.e. the show level detail of Netflix and Amazon Prime, that’s a huge milestone. Without Total Home, we would not be able to do that.”

Of course, since Netflix does not sell advertising, one might ask what’s the value in having a rating for their shows? Nielsen has said it is pursuing measuring Netflix to give program producers insight into how popular their shows are—and how much they should charge Netflix.

But more likely, the traditional TV clients of both Nielsen and Rentrak just want to know for sure where their viewers are going as their ratings continue to erode.

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.