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Rating Systems Struggle to Assess TV And Box Office Success Post Streaming Takeover

Photo by Blvck Paris via Unsplash

Rating Systems Struggle to Assess TV And Box Office Success Post Streaming Takeover

By Movieguide® Staff

The explosion of streaming platforms in 2020 and 2021 due to theater closures worldwide resulted in a drastic shift in measurements of success for mainstream entertainment. 

While the box office struggled over the past two years, streaming content became a mainstay for many consumers. Traditional analytics like the controversial Nielsen and regular box office ticket sales were blind-sided by simultaneous theatrical releases on streaming. 

“It’s like we all got in a time machine and went back to the year 1958,” Marvel’s Paul Dergarabedian said. “We’re saying, ‘What is this new thing called television and how do we measure it?’”

“For streamers, it’s like they’re running a buffet in Vegas – they don’t care what you eat as long as you pay to be there,” Dergarabedian added. 

In the past, a lack of transparency from prominent streamers like Netflix and Disney+ has made deciphering what exactly draws viewers challenging to pin down. However, with the prevalence of streaming content, the top streamers are trying to share more data. 

Deadline reported

Netflix, leveraging its global leadership position in streaming, has recently increased the amount of data it shares, issuing weekly top 10 lists of movies and series in dozens of countries on a weekly basis. That offers at least some count of the highest fliers, but the flops still come and go without any figures attached. Because its strategic focus is on subscribers, not exhibitors or advertisers, Netflix will never release a Gigli, at least in the official record books.

Newer streaming rivals like Disney+, Apple TV+ and HBO Max lack Netflix’s scale, so they describe activity on their platforms only in relative terms – ‘the biggest original drama in our history,’ etc. A year or two into their existence, they have yet to divulge any specific viewership figures. Apple is more extreme than that, never shedding light on how many people have signed up for Apple TV+ since it launched in November 2019. 

After the Media Rating Council pulled Nielsen’s accreditation in 2021, executives are reportedly excited to see what Nielsen One can provide regarding the future of rating systems. According to Deadline, Nielsen One is set to launch by the end of 2022. 

ComScore Chief Commercial Officer Chris Wilson believes streamers will become more forthcoming with their streaming data in the upcoming year. 

“The level of visibility within those streaming services is only going to continue to expand in 2022,” Wilson said

“There is a pretty significant degree of frustration in the creative community,” one independent production exec told Deadline. “For the moment, that feeling is offset by the financial resources and freedom they’re getting in order to explore complex stories that might otherwise be untenable. The system has historically been so fixated on box office that it had become unhealthy and homogenous. So, that’s the tradeoff – maybe everyone doesn’t applaud your weekend number when you walk into a lunch, but you get to pursue the kinds of projects you’re passionate about.”