YouTube Content Chief Calls Out Nielsen and FX, Pushes Back Against Multiplatform Measurement Efforts

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YouTube original content head Susanne Daniels pushed back Friday against the insistence by television executives that uniform systems to measure multiplatform video viewing are needed — and the movement by companies such as Nielsen and comScore to create such systems.

“I think there needs to be as accurate a system as possible, but I was never a fan of Nielsen’s back when I was at the networks,” Daniels said Friday at the TCA summer press tour. “I don’t think there’s a great system anywhere.” She added that YouTube’s own metrics reveal that 4 million people watched the pilot for for “Foursome,” an original scripted series on the YouTube Red subscription streaming service. “I don’t think it can get better than that.”

Daniels, a former programming executive at MTV and Lifetime who joined YouTube last year, opened the company’s first ever presentation at press tour by touting YouTube’s reach.

“The largest number of people we ever reached at MTV with a series episode was 3 million,” Daniels said. “An event highlight was reaching 8 million with the music video awards. Now I’m at YouTube, where we reach over a billion people every single month, including more 18-to-49-year-olds on mobile alone than any broadcast or cable network I’ve ever worked for. This platform has more power to reach an audience and be more influential than traditional television.”

But the YouTube numbers that Daniels touted are vastly different in nature than the television numbers she criticized. Television executives have recently taken to shooting down such comparisons. In April, FX research chief Julie Piepenkotter noted that if she gauged “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story” by two-second views — the standard measurement in digital video — the miniseries would have racked up 259 billion views.

Daniels on Friday took issue with that comparison.

“I’m not sure I agree with John Landgraf,” Daniels said, referring to the FX CEO. “And I respect John Landgraf, and I like John Landgraf, but I’m not sure that’s true.”

As multiplatform viewing increases, so has demand for more refined systems of multiplatform measurement. Speaking to a small group of reporters Thursday at press tour, Disney / ABC Television Group research head Cindy Davis noted that 51% of all television viewers are now multiplatform viewers compared to 15% in 2010.

But the demand for new measurements does not just stem from the television sector. YouTube is one of several Nielsen clients that have opted into the company’s new Total Audience system, unveiled this year.

The push toward new measurement happens as digital video nears the moment of eclipsing television in terms of advertising value. Magna Global predicted last year that digital ad sales would overtake TV sales in 2016.