During NBCUniversal’s Television Critic’s Association press tour panel, the network’s president of research and media development Alan Wurtzel, offered an answer to the long-standing question about the actual number of people out there watching Netflix shows.
According to Wurtzel, data collected from 15,000 users by San Francisco-based tech firm Symphony Advanced Media showed that Marvel’s Jessica Jones and Amazon’s adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s alternative history novel Man in the High Castle were the best performers for each of the streaming leaders.
An average of 4.8 million viewers in the adults 18-49 group watched an episode of the Marvel drama during this period, while 2.1 million reportedly viewed Amazon’s most watched original series ever. For Netflix, that means Jessica Jones performs as well as some of broadcast’s best performing series, including ABC’s How to Get Away With Murder and Modern Family.
In order to retrieve this data, Symphony measured the average episodic audience within the prized 18 to 49 demographic over a 35 day period for every new Netflix series that premiered between September and December. The company was able to record the data through the use of automatic content recognition (ACR) software embedded within a mobile app.
Wurtzel later admitted that the data was in the beta stage, but still defended its validity.
“They give you a sense of what the size is—whether it’s 4.4 million or 4.2 million, I don’t think [it] matters,” Wurtzel said.
Other shows that were measured include Master of None, which earned an audience of 3.9 million viewers, and Narcos, which had 3.2 million viewers. The latter’s data may be skewed, however, as the user sample missed the first few days of the show’s release.
Wurtzel used these findings to argue against the death of “TV the way god intended.” According to the NBCUniversal executive, Netflix’s content is neither broad or consistent enough to be considered a regular financial threat to the established model.
“It’s a very different business model,” Wurtzel said in regards to the Netflix platform. “Their business model is to make you write a check next month. So not every program on Netflix is a broad appeal program.”
“If you can’t measure it, you can’t sell it, you can’t evaluate it, you can’t understand it,” Wurtzel said. “We want to get paid for it and get credit for it. It’s not just about the money.”