The Nielsen Family Is Dead is a phenomenal article over on Wired that addresses the unspoken truth of TV today - traditional ratings are becoming redundant. You only have to count how many of your Sky-less friends and family seem to have mysteriously watched Game Of Thrones to know that something is not quite right with broadcast ratings anymore.
It’s been a long time coming for this to hit home in the right places. Observing the 2000’s surge of DVD sales with shows such as The Wire, some were wondering why there was a continued separation of DVD sales and broadcast viewers. After all, a viewer is a viewer, wherever they are. Sure, they don’t show up on the same spreadsheet, but if you’re looking to monetise the show further with merchandise, you need to count heads as much as coins.
With VOD, this is more relevant than ever. People are increasingly beguiled by a provider wanting to window the content for an arbitrary week in June; their friends are talking about it and they want it now. The ability to recognise and jump on the trends, whether they’re on a rubber-sealed bar graph or not, will be vital for broadcasters as much as programme makers in order to survive.
We spend a significant amount of time preaching the strengths of exposing a show’s lifecycle. A fan on first broadcast could have the same enthusiasm as a fan catching it on VOD, on Torrents(!) and on DVD. They are all fans, with the same excitable head bobbing up and down in a cafe talking about your show, even 6 months down the line.
In other words, if a million VOD episodes fall in the woods, do Nielsen hear it?