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Hulu Not Happy With Nielsen Numbers

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Hulu is none too happy with Nielsen after the online ratings company found Hulu’s unique visitor count dropped for the third straight month in April, reports Brian Stelter at The New York Times.

According to Nielsen, while the number of streams Hulu served grew 7.1 percent to more than 373 million in April, up from 348 million in March and 309 million in February, at the same time, Hulu’s unique audience dropped to 7.4 million in April, down from 8.9 million in March and 9.5 million in February. Stats rival comScore, meanwhile, said Hulu had 41.5 million unique viewers by its VideoMetrix count in March.

The Times writes that in email exchanges between the two parties, Hulu staff expressed frustration with Nielsen’s extrapolation methods. Such frustration stems from the fact that advertisers to a certain extent rely on these stats when deciding where to spend their money, and Hulu is entirely reliant on those ad dollars. If there is the perception that Hulu’s audience is dwindling, that could negatively impact Hulu’s bottom line.

Third-party ratings are always kind of screwy and need to be taken with a growing (or is it shrinking?) grain of salt. Sometimes even comScore’s own VideoMetrix and MediaMetrix data can cause confusion.

Help could be on the way. Earlier this month, a group of research firms including Nielsen, comScore, Rentrak and TNS Media formed their own stats supergroup of sorts to tackle the issue of standardizing web measurement.

12 Responses to “Hulu Not Happy With Nielsen Numbers”

  1. OK. I have no cable/broadcast tv- I use an S-video cable and a PC and the TV and my stereo. Hulu is the homepage in Firefox browser so I just click and there it is.

    I watch 24, Burn Notice, Philanthropist, Royal Pains, and several other shows. They just put Daybreak on, and I loved that show and was sad when it went off. I can’t wait for them to air The Equalizer- I miss that one.

    I choose free tv. Hulu is free, wifi is free. Can’t beat it. The ads are not too intrusive, but I don’t much care for all the non-profit commercials- they should advertise small businesses in local markets who would gladly afford the time along with their national advertisers.

    Arbitron and Nielson haven’t got a freakin’ clue about VOD ratings. If they did, shows would not cancel that we only watch on Hulu because we watch TV on our own terms today- thanks to the internet!

    Hulu- better than Netflix! Better than Cable! Better than Broadcast. It is the new entertainment platform for tv shows.

    Lastly, thank you hulu for working with Linux. For some stupid reason, ABC will show a commercial on their website- which proves flash works, but then they tell me I need internet exploder and windows to watch- give me a freakin break! Now if you could find a way to do what youtube does and work on my blackberry!


    Mark W.
    Lisle, IL

  2. Chris

    Sort of stinks that their ratings are dropping if that ends up affecting getting material up on the site(even tho i heard Disney is getting in on Hulu so that can bring ABC stuff to Hulu), but for me Hulu has done its job in making more addicted to television.

    I now actually watch the shows at their designated time instead of waiting for it to be posted on Hulu.

    They need to put more of the past seasons of shows, thats what made me keep coming back to this site, but now its becoming more of a place to come if I miss a new episode.

  3. skbeats

    Maybe if they opened up their platform and started allowing streams to things other than browsers (boxee, ps3, xbox 360, etc) then they could draw in a lot more users? Just an idea.

  4. that is a pretty huge disparity….i suppose i’d be a bit cheesed off too.

    I’m with timekeeper. Allow them access on the code level and get the real count.

    It seems as if they are reluctant to do that even though its possible and there are more than a few companies who could provide them with the service.

  5. timekeeper

    Instead of just complaining about it why don’t they let them into the code. Let them get real numbers instead of extrapolating. Hulu knows the real numbers but doesn’t seem to be offering them up.