Nielsen to Measure Feature Films on VOD

Hamilton
Courtesy of Disney +

'Hamilton'

The new service arrives as more and more Hollywood studios send original films to the small screen amid the ongoing pandemic and widespread theater closures.

Nielsen — famous for dispensing television ratings — is getting into the feature film business.

The company on Tuesday announced the launch of a new service, Theatrical Video-On Demand (TVOD). The offering, unveiled during Nielsen's virtual session at CES 2021, comes as more and more Hollywood studios make their movies available early in the home across an array of VOD platforms because of collapsing windows and the ongoing pandemic.

Some studios are sending their high-profile titles directly to their streaming companies, such as Disney+ or HBO Max, while others, led by Universal, are focusing on premium VOD.

As a result, Nielsen believes there is a need for studios and content creators to analyze the volume and reach of their audiences by detailed household and person’s characteristics, such as age and gender, ethnicity or even market.

“As this unprecedented pandemic continues to influence consumer behavior, perhaps even through a prolonged state of recovery waves, being able to measure and help clients appropriately monetize new revenue streams has never been more crucial,” said Scott N. Brown, Nielsen's general manager of audience measurement.

“A bigger question might be what will audiences do following any recovery, how the behavior adopted during stay-at-home orders might influence habits when consumers have the ability to go back to theaters to enjoy that experience and how content creators will leverage data to make the best decisions regarding distribution platforms in the future," Brown continued in his statement.

Nielsen also used its CES presentation to release its top 2020 lists, including feature films, whether library titles or straight-to-streaming offerings.

Disney+ claimed seven of the top 10 spots for the year, including the top two: Frozen II (14.92 billion minutes) and Moana (10.51 billion). It also includes two Disney+ titles originally intended for a theatrical release in Pixar's Onward (8.37 billion minutes viewed) and the live-captured performance of Hamilton (6.13 billion).

Streamers argue Nielsen's methodology doesn't capture the full scope of viewing on devices other than TV sets. Nielsen also only measures U.S. audiences, not those in other countries.

So far, Hollywood studios have remained tight-lipped when it comes to viewership numbers for their high-profile streaming or PVOD titles.