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NBC exec dishes ratings estimates for Jessica Jones, Man in the High Castle, others

Jessica Jones
In the world of traditional television, ratings are everything — they’re widely shared, boasted about when things are going good, and used as a reason for cancellation when things are going bad. When it comes to streaming services like Netflix or Amazon Video, though, ratings simply aren’t talked about, at least by the companies themselves.

During a presentation on the difficulties of measuring TV viewing audiences on Wednesday, NBCUniversal’s head of research and media development, Alan Wurtzel, shared ratings estimates on a number of streaming shows from September through December, Variety reports. The Netflix hit Jessica Jones, for example, saw an average of 4.8 million viewers per episode in adults aged 18 to 49 during a 35-day cycle, according to Wurtzel.

The Aziz Ansari comedy Master of None saw an estimated 3.9 million in the same time period and demographic, while Narcos, which Netflix recently boasted had more viewers than Game of Thrones, was estimated at 3.2 million. Amazon’s recent hit series, The Man in the High Castle, saw an average of 2.1 million.

Looking at older shows, the latest season of Orange is the New Black, which saw its third season air in June, averaged 644,000 viewers. This makes sense, as most fans likely binged their way through the most recent season over the summer.

Wurtzel called this part of the presentation a “Netflix Reality Check,” saying that he simply wanted to give a better idea of the size of Netflix’s audience. “The notion that they are replacing broadcast TV may not be quite accurate,” Wurtzel said.

The data used for the estimates came from the San Francisco-based Symphony, which uses software on users’ smartphones to track viewing using audio recognition technology. According to Wurtzel, the company currently has a sample size of 15,000. The company also tracked how much time users spent watching Netflix versus traditional “linear” TV.

After the premiere of the third season of Orange is the New Black in June, Symphony’s sample group spent 23 to 25 percent of their time watching Netflix, but afterward, the group spent 91 to 97 percent of their time watching linear TV. Narcos and Master of None had similar data, according to Wurtzel, grabbing 17 percent and 11 percent of the audience’s time, respectively, and tapering off significantly after the first two weeks.

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