List HBO Max as "DNP - Player's decision."
Last week, Nielsen shook things up a little with its weekly ranking of the most watched shows on the major U.S. subscription streaming services, including an Apple TV Plus series (Ted Lasso) for the first time in its top 10. Apple TV Plus shows will contend each week going forward, a source close to Nielsen told us.
Our immediate thought: Wouldn't HBO Max, which reported 45.2 million domestic subscribers at the end of the third quarter, be first in line to have its shows ranked alongside Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu and Disney Plus?
Maybe. But according to our source, HBO Max's exclusion is entirely "client discretion."
WarnerMedia wouldn't comment to us on its rationale. Could it be that a significant portion of the HBO subscriber base still gets traditional HBO through linear means, and a tally of aggregate streaming minutes wouldn't account for total viewing? Who knows. We're left to speculate here.
Notably, WarnerMedia did ask Nielsen to make a one-time exception to its ranker back in January, when the research company was tabulating subscription streaming usage for Christmas Day weekend, a period dominated by Warner Bros. Pictures theatrical release Wonder Woman.
The Nielsen source said the research company will accommodate other "special instances," should the "client" ask for them.
In the meantime, the exclusion of HBO Max further clouds a streaming metrics picture that reveals no signs of clearing up, with Nielsen's "top 10" list rendered flawed by lack of full participation.
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