Live Streams and Ratings
We recently got into a bit of argument with another page over Facebook, and we just wanted to establish a few facts for anyone who might have any misconceptions over what effect live streams have on viewership ratings.
The short answer: none.
So the way networks make money is through the selling of ad spots (merchandising is also a revenue source, but we will get into that later). The way advertisers know how large of an audience is being exposed to their commercials is with use of a viewership rating system. In the US and many other places this is done with use of the Nielsen Rating System.
About 25,000 households in America are equipped with boxes that monitor the viewership habits of their residents. Say a 1,000 of these homes tune in a new episode of Korra. This data, using particular algorithms, is extrapolated to arrive at the much larger number that is published the week after. This estimate determines the value of ad spots in subsequent weeks. Higher viewership rating = more expensive ad spots.
Live streams provide one time live access to new episodes for people who live outside the US or don’t have Nickelodeon on their TV’s. Unlike regular streams, live streams must be watched live. They still contain commercial breaks and they are generally a much lower quality than what one would see on their TV. Because of this the only people watching live streams are those who can’t physically watch it live on TV. So even if every person watching a new episode of Korra was counted towards the viewership rating, live streams would still not affect the rating’s size because who in their right mind would be watching a live stream when they can be watching it on their TV.
To blame live streams for Korra’s lower viewership ratings this season is both irrational and disturbing, considering the true reason stems mostly from how the season has been marketed and scheduled thus far.
One could make the argument that the illegal streams that pop up after an episode(s) airs might influence the viewership rating size, but this too is likely unfounded, considering the fact that Nickelodeon is not offering timely legal avenues for watching the episodes after they air.
We reckon mostly everyone reading this is perfectly aware of who the true culprit in this mess is, so hopefully this “rant” didn’t come across as condescending. That said, if you think live streams truly are harming this show, please educate yourself, and do not condemn sites like ours, who are providing a service for those who are unable to watch the show on TV.