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Nielsen reasserts measurement dominance with Netflix deal

Tim Baysinger
Oct 17, 2022
Illustration of a hand measuring a play button

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Nielsen remains the currency holder for advertisers in the streaming era, despite calls to replace the TV ratings provider. Last week's deal with Netflix underscores the point.

Why it matters: Nielsen's status has far-ranging impacts across the media industry. Every agreement it strikes reaches into the critical measurement business it manages, at a time when consumption habits are rapidly changing.

Context: Nielsen is under new management and has faced extraordinary pressure to modernize its media measurement capabilities as dozens of new firms threaten to take its market share.

Driving the news: Netflix announced last week that it will partner with Nielsen on its forthcoming ad-supported tier, which debuts next month.

  • Starting next year, Netflix will use Nielsen's digital audience measurement in the U.S. to give advertisers an understanding of its reach.
  • This marks the first time Netflix will put out ratings that are more comparable to traditional TV.

The big picture: Nielsen is now in business with some of the biggest companies in streaming as it prepares to launch Nielsen One, its new product to measure streaming viewing.

  • YouTube and Roku have agreed to use Nielsen One when it's available in December. An early version of the product, called Nielsen One Alpha, began rolling out in June.
  • Nielsen also signed a three-year deal with Amazon to measure "Thursday Night Football."

Yes, but: The complex nature of digital advertising means that it's no longer enough to simply measure audiences, but also their authenticity. That's allowed alternative firms to get a foothold against Nielsen in a space it isn't used to having competition.

  • Nielsen is not the only one Netflix is working with: The streaming giant is also partnering with Integral Ad Science and DoubleVerify to help ensure the ads are actually delivered appropriately.
  • Earlier this year, some of Nielsen's biggest customers openly told advertisers to use rival options from comScore, iSpot and VideoAmp.

What they're saying: David Cohen, president of the Interactive Advertising Bureau, believes that while Nielsen will remain the standard bearer, the competition isn't going away.

  • "Nielsen will continue to innovate and adapt their legacy panel to include big data in order to accurately reflect the diversity in the digital and streaming video landscape," Cohen says. "With that said, there are many qualified competitors that have arrived on the scene to compete with them including VideoAmp, Comscore, iSpot and EDO."
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