Twitter and Fox partnered on testing a new strategy on leveraging “earned audiences” to drive tune-in and higher social engagement around their hit show, Empire. I discuss for my latest for Found Remote.
This post has been difficult to update as it seems every week another network is announcing that they are dropping the traditional Nielsen ratings for their programs. First FX, then HBO, and now even CBS. And let’s not forget their “glitch” a few months ago. Where does Nielsen fit in this modern TV viewing landscape? Why haven’t they’ve been able to keep up with the times?
Nielsen can’t be entirely to blame. The entire industry has been stuck in their old ways for far too long and now networks are finally learning that viewing habits have changed and want to adopt a new system. It’s 2015 and tv networks are finally realizing viewers are not watching live or even within 3 days let alone through their television sets. Nielsen did announce in November that they will be measuring Netflix streaming; however, that won’t be enough to capture the true audience of shows.
During a recent TCA session, CBS’s chief research officer, David Poltrack (and my former NYU professor) said, “If you were a sports reporter, you would not report the winner based on the third-inning score” he continued, “That’s what you’re doing if you use Live+Same Day ratings” (i.e. doesn’t tell the whole story). Netflix’s Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos went a step further saying “Nielsen’s metrics won’t provide an accurate measurement, in part because it won’t account for viewing on devices other than a television.” It would be helpful to track the link between streaming shows and increased viewers of new seasons. I binged watched Sons of Anarchy Seasons 1 through 4 on Netflix and then began watching the latest seasons live on television. This is a pretty common trend. Amazon offered one of their originalsTransparent, a recent Golden Globe winner, for free this past weekend in hopes to gain new viewers and Prime members.
The partnership between Nielsen and Twitter is interesting and will provide more insight to television viewers. Conversations around programs happen months before premieres and years after (especially if it was just released on Netflix a la Friends).
But at the end of the day, it’s really about ad dollars. Networks want to show that people are still watching their shows so they can sell ads. If this means implementing their own ratings system then that’s what they’ll do. So does this signal an end of Nielsen ratings? No but they’re definitely going to have to become more adaptive because tv viewing habits are only going to become more diverse with the next generation (read: YouTube).
Despite being on a Monday night, the 66th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards faired well in the ratings. LostRemote reported that “6.2 million people had 10.9 million interactions” as compared to last year which saw “4.8 million people had 7.1 million interactions.” Pretty impressive considering it was a fairly boring show especially since it was all repeat winners. Cable conspiracy?
There was no Oscar selfie moment although we did have the pleasure of seeing a Clark Gable looking Bryan Cranston make out with his former Seinfeld co-star, Julia Louis-Dreyfus before she accepted her win.
For many of us, engaging in your Twitter feed is just as entertaining (if not more so) then actually watching the program live (yes, it actually happens!). I think the greatest potential for social TV are award shows and sports because that is when viewers are watching. However, I have been disappointed by the old cable networks during such events. Compare the social TV components of the Emmys versus the MTV Music Awards. Which network gets it? MTV, obviously.
Even with a “young, hip” host like Seth Myers, NBC couldn’t capitalize on having live viewers. The simplest thing they could do is have people voting via social media with their predictions. Have a banner going into commercial “next category is best actor in a comedy, tweet us who you think will win” then come back from commercial showing the results. (Although they had a lot of misfortunate banner moments like the one pictured above) Something The Bachelor does as well as many contestant driven “reality” shows do. Ellen at the Oscars at least understood she had to create moments that people would be buzzing about. There was no buzz for the peacock.
Today the Supreme Court finally ruled on the Aereo case. 6-3 vote, the court handed a victory to the four major TV broadcasters. Reading the ruling, clearly the judges don’t have a firm grasp of the technology. If cable companies want subscribers then they shouldn’t create a monopoly (Time Warner in Manhattan) and raise prices. Hate to break it to you cable networks but you’re operating under an old model. Viewers are not willing to be tied down to your ways (Read this Guardian article). If they were smart they would have bought out Aereo much like major tech companies (i.e. Google, Facebook, Twitter) do. If you can’t create it yourself, then buy someone who does.
Piracy is on the rise. Consumers have shown they are willing to pay on a per episode basis (a la Amazon or iTunes) or wait until the content becomes available on say Hulu. OR what most “kids” my age are doing is pirating. Game of Thrones set records! Anyone with an HBO Go, Netflix or Amazon Prime subscription is sharing it with their friends (i.e. beating the system). If cable companies want to avoid this then they shouldn’t go after technology that makes their programs more available to viewers but rather use technology to their advantage.
As my former NYU professor put it:
And as Aereo’s CEO and founder Chet Kanojia said in a statement, it is “a massive setback for the American consumer.” Not sure when cable companies will learn but hopefully tech companies will continue to challenge them for the benefit of consumers like myself who love television but don’t have deep pockets.