A study performed by Bernstein Research has suggested that ratings for children-specific cable networks are on the decline, with the primary cause being the success of online services, and in particular Netflix.
Measuring TiVo-based viewing patterns across America for Q1 of 2012 (via the 35,000-strong opt-in TiVo ‘Power Watch’ measurement service), research found that while Nickelodeon’s ‘ratings’ has improved by 2% (on Q1 2011 figures) in ‘non-Netflix’ homes but has dropped 6% in households that do feature the popular online streaming service, thought to be key considering that Nickelodeon licence shows to the company best known for movie streaming and DVD rental.
Meanwhile, similar results have even been recorded for children’s channels that do not offer their content on Netflix, as demonstrated by for Cartoon Network, which while recording higher numbers for both Netflix and non-Netflix homes, had a better increase in the latter.
Bernstein analyst Todd Juenger said of the findings: “Turns out, Netflix streamers watch just as much traditional TV as non-streamers. However, there is a significant share shift among streamers. Kids networks (not just Nickelodeon) and syndicated shows are getting severely whacked. Our TiVo data cannot prove Netflix is to blame for the entirety of the Nickelodeon problem, but it certainly indicates that Netflix had something to do with it. We believe the obvious implication for the kids’ networks, if their internal data looks anything like ours, is they should get out of these Netflix deals as fast as they can.”
Netflix, though, appear to be claiming that the numbers for Nickelodeon could be coincidental, and that their online broadcasting of original programming licenced by networks can be a benefit to the channels, as it was noted by Bernstein researchers that ratings for AMC (who offer exclusive original programming licenses to Netflix), are 15% higher amongst viewers who are also Netflix subscribers as opposed to not. The online streaming service also claiming that in their role, they are able to serve as a ‘first window’ to generate interest in the shows, and by extension, the networks themselves.
However, it appears that the method works better with some channels rather than others, but will channels such as Nickelodeon know when the right time to move is, or will they be holding out faith for a turnaround?