updated 05:45 pm EDT, Thu April 26, 2012
Overall impact varies but Nick definitely suffers
The complex relationship between content providers and streaming giant Netflix has taken another turn, as numbers from independent researchers tie Netflix streaming directly to precipitous drops in viewership for kids channel Nickelodeon. To make the story stranger, the effect is distinctly pronounced for Nickelodeon rather than other child-oriented channels.
The figures come from Bernstein Research analysts, who examined the viewing habits for 9,500 Netflix streamers and 9,500 non-streamers from a larger sample of about 35,000 TiVo set-top users. The researchers looked at viewership rates for Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, Nick Toons, Disney XD, and Teen Nick.
Analyzing the viewership numbers of the two groups, the researchers found that Nickelodeon viewing dropped by six percent in Netflix-streaming households, while Nick Toon and Teen Nick saw 11 percent drops. In non-streaming households, Nickelodeon, Nick Toons, and Teen Nick saw two, five, and 36 percent increases in viewership.
The Netflix effect wasn't the same for non-Nickelodeon networks. Disney XD saw 11 percent growth in viewership among streaming households, while Cartoon Network saw a nine percent increase in viewership. Among non-streaming households, though, Disney XD and Cartoon Network saw 27 and 12 percent viewership gains, respectively.
The figures seem to indicate some drag on viewership for all involved channels, though the effect is most pronounced, of course, for Nickelodeon's offerings. Additional research showed that Netflix does have a positive impact for some networks: AMC saw 86 percent viewership growth among streamers, and only 71 percent among non-streamers; and the Big Four broadcast networks all performed slightly better among streaming households.
Netflix's ongoing struggle with content providers is well known, with some providers making the streaming service delay adding new movies to its streaming queue, while others have ended previous deals they held in order to head off competition from Netflix. The streaming service has begun its own forays into original content, partly in an effort to give itself leverage against content providers; but these fledgling attempts have met with mixed reviews. Additional evidence in support of a deleterious Netflix effect could see the streaming service in a much tougher bargaining position, as content providers are unlikely to cut deals with a service that, in one way or another, undercuts them.