11:21am PT by Michael O'Connell
Netflix Ratings Guesser Symphony Shutters Young Measurement Tool
Netflix's ratings are about to get even less transparent.
Little more than a year after making headlines for professing to know how many users were watching Netflix's sprawling slate of scripted originals, veteran measurement company Symphony Advanced Media has halted its efforts to game the system. Its young VideoPulse service, which drew on a panel of 15,000 users, shut down over the weekend.
"We deeply regret that Symphony Advanced Media will be shutting down its VideoPulse service effective 4/16/2017," reads a statement on the website. "VideoPulse customers will be able to access historical data until 5/1/2017."
Symphony sparked a flurry of trend pieces when it let alleged Netflix "ratings" slip, at first though a January 2016 PowerPoint presentation by former NBCUniversal research chief Alan Wurtzel, and then started regularly releasing estimates of original series audiences over the course of the last year. Among the most illuminating stats delivered in that time were the number of Thanksgiving weekend Gilmore Girls bingers and the astronomical audience tally for the first season of Fuller House.
But all of Symphony's numbers, which also showed comparatively minuscule audiences for streaming rival Amazon Prime, were greeted with figurative shrugs from Netflix brass.
"Given what is really remarkably inaccurate data, I hope they didn't spend any money on it," Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos said in 2016. "The methodology doesn't reflect any sense of reality we keep track of."
Symphony's clientele ultimately weren't spending money on VideoPulse. The service was shuttered after failing to generate enough support from the networks and studios needed to bankroll the operation.