Netflix Chief Downplays Nielsen Plans to Measure Streaming Service Viewership

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings
Hector Vivas/Latin Content/Getty Images

He adds that broadcast TV will probably die by 2030

What does Netflix CEO Reed Hastings think about reported plans by Nielsen to measure viewership for original series like Orange Is the New Black and acquired programming?

"It's not very relevant," he said. "There's so much viewing that happens on a mobile phone or an iPad that [Nielsen won't] capture."

According to a Wall Street Journal report, Nielsen will use content's audio on televisions to identify shows, but the measurement will not include mobile devices. Nevertheless, the ratings data could have a big effect on negotiations for streaming rights for Netflix and rival Amazon.

Hastings was in Mexico City on Monday to talk about Netflix's growing presence in Latin America — after three years in the region, the streaming service giant has captured more than 5 million users, bringing the global total to some 53 million.

Netflix recently launched in six key European markets, but none with the growth potential of Latin America.

"Latin America is one of the fastest growth areas in the world in terms of broadband households and Internet connectivity," Hastings said.

Earlier this month, Netflix announced that it's making its first foray into Australia and New Zealand, and some believe Japan may come next as the first move in a pan-Asia rollout. Hastings said there are no specific plans yet for Asia. 

As Netflix continues to grow abroad, the company is working harder than ever to secure global licensing in its content deals, mainly because U.S. viewers have access to a much broader catalog than users in, say, Mexico.

Said Hastings: "We are trying to get to a place where it's fully global and you can get anything, anywhere."

Netflix's game-changing distribution strategies have irked some in the business. Plans to release the sequel to Ang Lee's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon day-and-date online and in Imax theaters has several exhibitors vowing to boycott the film.

Hastings said it's all about "breaking the stranglehold that movie theaters have" on releases.

As for free-to-air TV, Hastings believes its days are numbered.

"It's kind of like the horse, you know, the horse was good until we had the car," he said. "The age of broadcast TV will probably last until 2030."

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