Before streaming services existed, television and film were dominated by hard numbers. For movies, you only had to look at the box office and DVD rental industry to see how well you were performing. For TV, Neilsen ratings told us who was watching what during the week. 

Now, it seems like we only hear numbers from streamers when they're great. Like how Netflix just told us Bridgerton became their most-watched TV series of all time. With streamers so tightlipped, the job falls on third-party companies to try to track what's going on online. 

Streamers keep their numbers to themselves because they always want to project popularity and success. It keeps their investors happy. And when shows trend on social media or have massive numbers, they leak that to help their businesses grow. 

Third-party companies try to track these numbers to keep streamers in check, but are their numbers reliable? 

Neilsen still gets their numbers by surveying 40,000 households, just like they did with network TV. But that's not the only way things go. Other digital oversight companies are trying their own tracking. 

“We are talking to 3,000 people a week to see what they watch,” said Mark Orne, who heads Screen Engine/ASI’s COVID-era service, titled PostVOD. “I think it’s important for everyone to know what the landscape is, and not only which movies are being more viewed than others, but what is being contributed to their success and who is watching them and how they are finding out about them.”

He told The Hollywood Reporter that Screen Engine/ASI’s service polls a few thousand people a week to track audience viewing habits and demographics for movies debuting on streaming or premium VOD. 

These companies are not collecting the data just for fun. With steamers unwilling to give us hard numbers for who is watching what, advertisers and financiers want to know if they're making the right bets. And networks still want to know what they're up against. 

This is an interesting wrinkle within the streaming wars. The idea that these companies are springing up and selling secret information that streamers cannot refute without providing evidence is really funny. 

What do you think of all these changes within TV and movie ratings? Let us know in the comments. 

Source: The Hollywood Reporter