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‘Orange Is the New Black’ does Netflix proud with newly released Nielsen ratings

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Streaming services may not be big on releasing ratings for the TV shows, but Nielsen is happy to fill in some of the gaps. The company released data about shows on streaming services for the first time during a presentation at a conference in Las Vegas, the Wall Street Journal reports. The series included Netflix’s Orange Is the New Black and Seinfeld reruns on Hulu.

With the TV studios behind the shows giving Nielsen the green light to share the data, it is no surprise that each series discussed performed well. How well, however, was still notable. Orange Is the New Black, for example, drew in 6.7 million U.S. viewers in the three-day period following its June 17 season 4 premiere — a number that would make it one of the most-watched cable dramas on TV if it aired on a traditional network. Using live-plus-three ratings, OITNB would rank second, falling between HBO’s Game of Thrones (10.4 million viewers) and TNT’s Major Crimes (5.8 million), according to Variety.

Meanwhile, Hulu’s Seinfeld reruns are making a strong showing for themselves. Within the first five days of becoming available, they reached 706,000 U.S. viewers. Clearly, there’s still an audience for the so-called “show about nothing.”

No matter how good the numbers are, though, the question remains whether or not streaming ratings actually matter. Without having to sell advertising, Netflix has argued that they don’t, which allows the company make shows for both wide-scale and niche audiences. Additionally, there isn’t a direct comparison to TV, given that shows are available on-demand and for longer periods of time, likely altering the urgency viewers feel about watching a series when it premieres.

At the very least, though, Nielsen’s ratings show that streamers have been able to build large and enthusiastic audiences for certain shows, and that they may remain a threat to cable as more and more households subscribe to different services.

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Stephanie Topacio Long
Stephanie Topacio Long is a writer and editor whose writing interests range from business to books. She also contributes to…
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