×

Netflix U.S. Viewing to Surpass ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC by 2016: Analysts

If Netflix were a Nielsen-rated TV network, the No. 1 streaming service would, within a year, attain a larger 24-hour audience than each of the major broadcast networks — ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC — according to a Wall Street analyst firm.

To be clear, the analysis by FBR Capital Markets is not apples-to-apples. One major caveat: Nielsen TV ratings cover, at most, up to seven days of VOD and DVR viewing — and exclude online-video views, which networks say are an increasing part of the pie. Moreover, TV networks provide a different blend of content, such as live sports, that Netflix doesn’t. And anyway, Netflix doesn’t care about “ratings” of individual shows, given that it doesn’t sell ads and has steadfastly refused to disclose anything but general data about viewing.

But according to FBR analysts Barton Crockett and Chase White, the comparison is meant to be a barometer of the relative popularity of Netflix to traditional TV nets. The trajectory of Netflix users’ hours spent viewing illustrates the company’s growing market power, not just in the U.S. but internationally, they said.

The data highlights “Netflix’s domestic rise and dominance, bolstering confidence in its ability to grow subs and charge more domestically and to replicate its success in key markets around the world,” the analysts wrote in a research note.

Here’s how the analysts did the math: Netflix said users streamed about 10 billion hours of video in Q1 2015, equating to nearly two hours per subscriber per day. The FBR analysts calculated what Netflix’s Nielsen rating would be by dividing the two-hour figure by 24 hours, then multiplying that by the number of Netflix U.S. subs as a percentage of households.

That would give Netflix an overall rating in Q1 of 2.6, on par with ABC and NBC. And given that Netflix is growing usage at a compound annual growth rate of more than 40% — while broadcasters are on average declining — that means the streamer will have a larger 24-hour audience in one year than any broadcast network.

Another data point called out by FBR’s analysts: When consumers were asked if they had to choose between Netflix and a cable or satellite TV subscription, 57% picked Netflix, with 43% opting for pay TV, according to a survey FBR conducted with ClearVoice Research in April.

“Netflix subscribers clearly like it more than pay TV, which we see as arguing for pricing leverage, since pay TV, on average, costs over $80 per month,” the analysts wrote, citing Netflix’s average $8 price point.

In addition, the FBR team noted that Netflix in 2015 is expected to spend nearly $2 billion on U.S. content rights (and about that much internationally). That would make Netflix’s U.S. content spending bigger than HBO, Showtime Networks or Starz, as well as Fox’s and Disney’s non-news/non-sports cable channels, according to the analysts, citing SNL Kagan data. But the broadcast nets, as well as Viacom and Turner Networks (excluding CNN), still spend more on programming rights in the U.S.

There’s no doubt Netflix will continue to flex its muscles — building on its 62 million-plus worldwide subscriber base as of the end of March. The only question is how much, and how quickly, the company will disrupt the current TV biz.

More TV

  • Ariana Grande Olivia Munn Michael Che

    Celebrities vs. Critics: Why This Battle Has No Winners (Column)

    When actor Olivia Munn tweeted a “short essay on…ugly behaviors” late Wednesday night, she insisted that a blog had been unfairly maligning her for years. She wrote that she wanted to confront the idea that baseless critiques, particularly those aimed at women, are never okay no matter how famous the target may be. On the [...]

  • ‘Peaky Blinders’ Virtual Reality Game in

    ‘Peaky Blinders’ Virtual Reality Game Will Pitch Players Into the Action

    “Peaky Blinders” fans will be able to join the gang – virtually – in a new VR game that will allow players to interact with characters from the hit series. Start-up immersive studio Maze Theory teamed with the show’s producers and is making the game, which will launch in 2020. Artificial intelligence technology means characters [...]

  • TV News Roundup: HBO's 'Deadwood: The

    TV News Roundup: HBO Releases 'Deadwood: The Movie' Trailer

    In today’s TV news roundup, HBO released the trailer for the “Deadwood” film, and CNN announced a premiere date for “Apollo 11.”  DATES The documentary “Apollo 11” from director/producer Todd Douglas Miller will premiere on CNN Sunday, June 23 at 9 p.m. Using only archival sources, the film captures NASA’s 1969 Apollo 11 mission. FIRST [...]

  • shannon ryan

    Shannon Ryan Joins Disney TV, ABC as Marketing Chief

    Former Fox Television chief marketing officer Shannon Ryan has been tapped as the new president of marketing for ABC Entertainment and Disney Television Studios. The announcement was made by Karey Burke, president of ABC Entertainment, and Craig Hunegs, president of Disney Television Studios, to whom she will report. Rumours had been circling for a while [...]

  • Dan Lin's Rideback, MRC Announce Writers

    Dan Lin's Rideback, MRC Announce First Class of Writers and Mentors for TV Incubator

    Rideback, Dan Lin’s production company, and MRC have announced the inaugural class of writers and mentors for their TV incubator.  The new TV writers residency program, which was launched in February, offers a paid, eight-month residency program to a group of writers who have each previously been staffed on series and want to create their [...]

  • CBS Viacom

    CBS and Viacom Move Closer to Merger Talks

    The CBS Corp. board of directors is moving closer to initiating acquisition discussions with Viacom, according to multiple sources close to the situation. The move has been expected for months, although there may still be obstacles on the road to a reunion for the two sides of the Redstone media empire. Price could still be [...]

  • Santa Fe Studios Netflix

    Santa Fe Studios Competes With Other New Mexico Stages for Streaming Business

    Albuquerque Studios entered the spotlight last October when it was purchased by Netflix. While the complex is clearly the jewel in the crown of New Mexico’s production infrastructure, with eight soundstages totaling 132,000 square feet, 100,000 square feet of production offices, a large backlot and support space, it’s not the only modern studio facility in [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content