TCA: NBC Research Chief Calls for Better Cross-Platform Measurement

Pasadena, Calif. — NBC research chief Alan Wurtzel spoke to the need for adequate measurement during the network’s TCA winter press tour Wednesdasy.

Wurtzel, who serves as president of research and media development for NBCUniversal, said the linear TV viewing numbers traditionally provided by Nielsen don’t fully take the temperature of a show and that more needs to be done on the digital front.

Though the exec called Nielsen’s new customized Total Audience Measurement offering a step in the right direction, he cited three alternatives: Symphony Advanced Media, TiVo/Reality Mine and Rentrak/ComScore.

“I just feel for the first time that maybe there’s some movement in the cross-platform world,” he said.

The exec also used the time to give the press a “reality check” on Netflix and streaming video on demand, saying the idea SVOD is replacing broadcast TV is not accurate.

"The problem with Netflix has always been that they won't give you the numbers, so we can't know how many people are watching these shows," said Wurtzel.

NBCU worked with Symphony, which uses audio content recognition for its data, to demystify Netflix viewing. (Nielsen requires back-end tagging or encoding, something that Wurtzel said can result in a program not getting picked up.)

According to Symphony, Netflix's Jessica Jones averaged about 4.8 million viewers, Narcos 3.2 million and Master of None 3 million, while Amazon’s Man in the High Castle came in at a 2.1.

“When you compare this to programs like to Big Bang on CBS, 9 million, or to Empire or to Blindspot or to Blacklist, these numbers pale,” said Wurtzel.

“It's not that people aren't watching, because they are,” he added.

Jessika Walsten

Jessika is content engagement director of Broadcasting + Cable, Multichannel News and NextTV. She has been with the brands in various roles since 2013. In her current role, she works primarily behind the screen, keeping an eye on the website and fixing any site bugs. A graduate of USC Annenberg, Jessika has edited and reported on a variety of subjects for NextTV, including profiles on industry leaders and breaking news.