Reports indicate the move is a response to the threat posed by Disney’s upcoming streaming platform.
Reed Hastings, co-founder, chairman and chief executive of Netflix, has stated that he welcomes BARB measurement of Netflix content. The unexpected announcement has fuelled industry speculation onwhat has prompted the move; Netflix has been notoriously secretive about sharing performance data up till now.
The service has enjoyed continuous UK subscriber growth for the past 22 quarters and now has 11.62m UK households signed up to the service – almost 3m more households than Sky’s 8.64m. This has all been achieved with its own first-party data. Third-party measurement from BARB would offer individual-level age, gender and demography insight beyond Netflix-device-level first-party data, albeit extrapolated from a panel of 5,300 homes and arguably of little additional value.
Jon Manning, writing for Campaign, believes that Netflix is now welcoming BARB ratings as it faces an imminent threat in the form of Disney+, which launches in November in the US, and the UK in 2020.
“Netflix has built a business streaming content from well-known movie studios before branching out into producing content of its own,” writes Jon. “However, films from renowned studios draw large audiences and subscribers to Netflix, and none is bigger than Disney, especially given its recent acquisition of 21st Century Fox. Disney+ will be the exclusive home of Disney content, migrating off the Netflix platform entirely. That means none of the Marvel Cinematic Universe films (23 movies to date and many more in the works), no Star Wars films (including spin-offs such as The Mandalorian), no Pixar films and certainly no animated classics such as The Jungle Book, Lion King and Beauty and the Beast.”
Jon continues: “In fact, Disney owns eight out of the top 10 highest-grossing films ever. This box-office success translates to cheaper operational costs for Disney+, since many titles will have exceeded the production budget in box-office revenues, meaning Disney can afford to undercut Netflix’s monthly subscription costs ($6.99 for Disney+ versus $8.99 for Netflix’s base package; UK pricing to be confirmed). The threat Disney poses to Netflix in terms of quality content and cheaper subscriptions could result in huge churn out of Netflix and into Disney+, sending subscriber numbers plummeting. Netflix relinquishing its previous positon on third-party measurement could be an attempt to better understand its existing customer base for retention purposes, or it could have an eye on opening a new revenue stream when the outlook for subscriber revenue looks bleak.”