Netflix opens up to UK audience measurement after joining BARB

Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story

Netflix’s viewing data is set to receive fresh scrutiny after the streamer agreed a first-of-its-kind deal in the UK with measurement agency BARB (Broadcasters Audience Research Board).

BARB is owned by the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5, Sky and the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising and provides the industry with audience data by recording the viewing habits of around 5,000 people.

The organisation revamped its operations last year to include streaming services in its reporting of what people watch across linear and on-demand. Its daily reporting includes aggregate-level viewing to SVOD/AVOD and video-sharing platforms, as well as content ratings for shows on the leading SVOD services.

The landmark deal marks the first time Netflix has become part of an industry-owned audience measurement system anywhere in the world and comes as the SVOD prepares to move into ad-supported streaming, which is set to launch later this year.

Reporting details

Netflix has been slow to share data on how many people are watching its shows and to date has only published its most watched shows by weekly hours viewed (read more about that here). For the UK between 26 September and 2 October, Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story came top, followed by: Dynasty S5; Inside the World’s Toughest Prisons S6; The Empress; and Fate: The Winx Saga S2.

BARB’s reporting will start from 1 November, with data collected every day at both a service and a programme level, reflecting the same way it reports viewing for over 300 other subscribing broadcast channels, broadcast video-on-demand (BVOD) and advertising/subscription video-on-demand (AVOD/SVOD) services.

From the second week of November, BARB will publicly report the monthly reach and share of viewing for broadcaster groups and SVOD/AVOD services, which account for more than 0.5% of total identified viewing.

Across 2022, broadcasters’ linear channels and on-demand services accounted for around two-thirds of all viewing via BARB’s system, while SVOD/AVOD services comprised about one-sixth of all viewing. The average daily viewing time to broadcasters’ services was 159 minutes in September 2022, and the average for SVOD/AVOD services was 36 minutes per day.

BARB is also extending its weekly reporting of the top 50 shows to include programmes across all linear channels and SVOD service providers.

Reed Hastings, co-CEO of Netflix, said: “Back in 2019, at the RTS conference in Cambridge, I welcomed the idea of Netflix audiences being measured independently. We’ve kept in touch with BARB since then and are pleased to make a commitment to its trusted measurement of how people watch television in the UK.”

Justin Sampson, chief executive of BARB, added: “Our audience measurement continuously adapts to accommodate the new platforms and devices that are being used by people to watch their favourite television shows. We took a big step forward last year when we started reporting audiences to streaming services. Netflix’s commitment to BARB sends a clear signal that what we’re doing is valuable to new and established players in the market.”

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