BIZMOLOGY — Here’s a conundrum for the movie industry, recently reported by The New York Times: Consumers are shifting viewing habits from the box office to newer channels like Netflix and Amazon, but there is still no generally available industrywide data on the digital performance of individual movies.
Though providers of streaming services privately share their data with studios, this information is not routinely shared with filmmakers, talent agencies, or news organizations. Agencies, in particular, seek information about digital audiences because, as one professional at William Morris stated, “their behavior is crucial to structuring deals and advising clients as to whether a particular project will fly.”
Progress on digital audience measurement is slow, but it is not nonexistent. Rentrak publicly releases the titles of top-performing on-demand film as reported by its participating services (though it offers no specific stats). And earlier this year Nielsen began measuring audiences who view TV content online with its new Nielsen Digital Program Ratings. The service provides overnight audience data such as unique audience, stream counts, and reach by age and gender for TV programming viewed online.
Despite these efforts, there is still no uniform reporting system that aggregates all data on a film across all of its distribution platforms. Such data would help industry players as they make deals, decide which movies to back, and what to spend on them.
Those who stand to gain the most from increased data transparency are producers and distributors of smaller films that may not perform well at the box office but could gain a second life through digital streaming. For their sake (and for those of us who are fans of these types of movies), let’s hope a standard of digital audience measurement and reporting comes soon.