Sun. Jul 14th, 2024

We now know why streaming audiences are unknown

By b0oua Jul 2, 2024

In the mist that surrounds platform data, the figures don’t always add up.

We get audience data all the time, but we don’t really know what works and what doesn’t on the platforms in absolute terms. For example, what does it mean when a movie or TV show ranks #1 on Netflix in terms of viewership? If we don’t know how many Prime members really watch Prime Video, how can we tell if the “hit” statistics is reliable? We lose faith in the numbers for a variety of reasons, including the public’s insatiable demand for ever-new content and the advent of “data scientists” to fill the void.

The kind of achievement you’re describing. The fact that some shows have been “three weeks in a row at the top of the most watched lists” doesn’t explain why we only learn about them now. The enormous quantity of shows and movies released on services like Netflix could be a contributing factor. Currently, there are 25 to 30 new releases per week, as listed on the What’s on Netflix website. Although everything is promoted (the main Netflix account typically tweets about fifteen times a day, excluding RTs), it’s normal that only a small number of releases reach the top. For example, last week three made it, the week before that three more…

One anecdote. The “datecdote” (or “datecdote” in English) is a term that the analyst Entertainment Strategy Guy coined in his 2018 newsletter and has been working on ever since. He brought it up again because a news item about “Doctor Who” has been seen as both a success and a failure, reinforcing the feeling of success that turns out not to be so great.

Entertainment Strategy Guy first used the term to describe how platforms are disseminating biased data, which is not necessarily false data but data that is missing context. He likened it to the well-known “five Ws” of journalism: “who,” “what,” “when,” and “where.” However, he said that platforms only provide us with half of the five Ws, or biased versions of the “where” and “who,” while omitting or being vague about the “when” to inflate the “who” and “why” questions.

The iceberg has been utilized. Our research team says “Netflix, Amazon and Snapchat – which are just the three companies I’m referring to, although Twitter, Facebook, Twitch, Hulu and YouTube also do this – do not provide us with data, but with anecdotes.” He uses the analogy of an iceberg to explain it: just 10% of the data is visible, while the other 90% is hidden. Those percentages soar when it comes to streaming, because services like Netflix have access to vast amounts of data: “millions of customers watching tens of thousands of videos with at least a dozen or more categorical variables per interaction.” In these instances, the concealed aspect of the iceberg constitutes 99%.

A multitude of sources. The abundance of sources contributes to the disjointed data that hinders the formation of a coherent informative discourse. Data from reputable sources is typically considered; for instance, we look at weekly reports from Nielsen, Luminate, and Samba TV, to mention a few. In addition, we have platform-specific data, including the weekly Netflix top scores, as well as ratings aggregators’ scores (e.g., Rotten Tomatoes or IMDB). There are discrepancies and inconsistencies in the data.

Here are a couple of instances. The Entertainment Guy provides instances of these “datadotes” to help us understand how these adverts exaggerate some elements while ignoring others. Ads like “best reality show premiere this year” don’t provide any data from prior years, “best first five days globally” doesn’t differentiate between different markets or go beyond the first five days, and “most watched Korean drama in history in its first seven days” doesn’t provide any data from beyond the first week or from other Korean or non-Korean series worldwide.

That platforms aren’t more transparent. Well, I’m curious as to why this occurs. Why are data and audiences being so tightly controlled, even dishonestly? According to market research done by companies like S&P Global or Digital Agency Network, there are a number of possible explanations:

One tactic platforms may employ to maintain their competitive edge is to be vague with data so that rivals can’t pinpoint their weaknesses; this way, platforms can control the narrative and avoid any strategy leaks. Prime Video is an extreme example; the company does not even disclose its user count to the public.
First and foremost, advertising: While this may not have been a major concern a few years ago, the present emphasis on advertising by platforms makes it easy for the figures to stand out. With respect to the total number of subscribers, individual achievements, and the percentages that demonstrate the choices and priorities of each platform.
Avoid perplexing investors: Studies show that platforms owned by bigger corporations and operating at distinct business levels (e.g., almost all of them save Netflix: Disney, Apple, Amazon, etc.) may not wish to mislead investors by providing details that suggest one service or company affects another.
Problems with technology: On top of everything else, measuring an audience is more complicated than it is with traditional television, mostly because there are so many different approaches. While audience meters are the only reliable tool for national television, the variety of sources already discussed and the unique procedures used by streaming platforms make this task much more complex.–6683aafce1466#goto8913–6683deca384a7#goto8926

By b0oua

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