Nielsen's Kenny: Off-TV Content Powers Netflix

Netflix may be video's 800 pound gorilla, but it is still swinging from a broadcast antenna.

That was one of the messages from Nielsen CEO David Kenny to the Senate Commerce Committee Wednesday (June 5) at a hearing on the state of the video marketplace.

Netflix and other over-the-top providers have gotten a lot of attention by broadcasters as they argue about how much the video marketplace has changed. 

Kenny concedes it is a new ballgame, but suggests the veteran players are still powering the lineup, suggesting that in that new marketplace, a trusted umpire, as it were, providing independent measurement (ratings) and analytics, is still vital, perhaps even more so that advertisers know where best to put their ads.

Related: Nielsen to Measure YouTube in 26 International Markets

"While the overall consumption of live television was down 4% between 2017 and 2018," he said, "it still comprises 78% of overall video consumption." That works out to 3 hours 44 minutes of live TV, plus a half hour of consuming recorded programming from "live TV."

And while he said Netflix and other over-the-top providers are investing "substantial sums" in new programming--NCTA-The Internet & Television Association, testifying at the same hearing, pointed out Netflix's spending was something like $14 billion in one year--Kenny suggested the service was still powered by broadcast content. 

"[E]ight of the top 10 shows on Netflix, for example, come from traditional television 'library' content," he said, including The Office, Friends, and , which each account for 2% of total Netflix viewership.

"When choosing what to watch on streaming services, consumers cited existing and former broadcast shows as the biggest influence," he said.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.