Paramount+ left out in the cold by Measurement firm: “Top Gun: Maverick” metrics MIA
Austin Butler’s portrayal of the hip-shaking legend in Baz Luhrmann’s “Elvis” has set the U.S. subscription services ablaze with a whopping 2.7 billion minutes streamed on HBO Max since its release on August 8, 2022. According to the latest Nielsen report, “Elvis” takes the crown as the most-streamed title among this year’s Best Picture nominees – that is, if we only consider platforms that Nielsen reports metrics for.
But hold your horses, folks. What’s the catch, you may ask? Brace yourselves, for here’s the twist: Nielsen’s Streaming Content Ratings conveniently leave out Paramount+ – the streaming service that premiered “Top Gun: Maverick” on December 22, 2022. The film has now claimed its spot as the service’s most-streamed movie premiere to date, leaving the rest of the competition in its wake.
And that’s not all – Showtime, the home of this year’s Best Picture frontrunner, “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” also doesn’t make it to Nielsen’s streaming estimates report. With this in mind, it’s anyone’s guess as to whether “Elvis” truly reigns supreme among all the nominees in terms of streaming metrics.
Nielsen’s Streaming Woes: Limited Reporting on Best Picture Nominees
While Nielsen’s recent report gives us some juicy insights into the most-streamed Best Picture nominees on subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) platforms, it also raises more questions than it answers.
It seems that Nielsen is in the dark when it comes to the biggest hit of 2022, “Top Gun: Maverick,” which premiered on Paramount+. And they have no reportable metrics for the critically acclaimed “Everything Everywhere All at Once” on any SVOD platform.
Out of the 10 Best Picture nominees, Nielsen only has reportable data on four: “Elvis,” “All Quiet on the Western Front” on Netflix, “The Banshees of Inisherin” on HBO Max, and “Tár” on Peacock. The remaining three nominees are available for digital rental or purchase but not on SVOD, and “Avatar: The Way of Water” is not available on any legal digital or streaming platform.
So, what can we learn from the data Nielsen does have? “Elvis” has accumulated 2.7 billion minutes of viewing on HBO Max in the past six months, making it the most-streamed Best Picture nominee on SVOD platforms. However, this number pales in comparison to the total watch-time of two other movies in 2022, each of which generated more than “Elvis” in a single week, according to Nielsen.
Nielsen’s Metrics Matrix: Gaps and Takeaways
While “Elvis” may be leading the pack in terms of streaming minutes among the 2023 Oscars best picture nominees, Nielsen’s data set has its limitations when it comes to estimating the true reach and popularity of streaming titles. In fact, some of the biggest streaming hits of 2022, such as “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery,” “Hocus Pocus 2,” and “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” were not even nominated for an Oscar.
Furthermore, Nielsen’s Streaming Content Ratings only include certain platforms, and not all streaming services are covered. For example, Nielsen does not report metrics for Paramount+ or Showtime, which means that we don’t know how “Top Gun: Maverick” or “Everything Everywhere All at Once” performed on those platforms.
However, Nielsen’s data does reveal some interesting takeaways. One notable trend is the increasing availability of Oscar nominees on streaming services, as four of the ten best picture contenders this year have yet to land on a streaming platform. This is a contrast to last year’s ceremony, where nine of the ten nominees were already available to stream by the time of the awards ceremony.
In addition, Nielsen’s analysis shows that streaming availability can have a significant impact on viewership. In 2022, audiences streamed almost 8.5 billion minutes of the nine best picture nominees throughout the year, and the availability of these titles on streaming services close to the Oscars ceremony fueled a halo effect of viewership.
In short, while Nielsen’s metrics matrix may have some gaps when it comes to streaming metrics, its data still provides valuable insights into trends in streaming and the impact of streaming availability on viewership.
Streaming Fails to Salvage Prestige Films
Despite streaming being touted as a potential lifeline for prestigious films that failed to attract a wider audience in cinemas, new data from PlumResearch suggests otherwise. Except for “Top Gun: Maverick,” “Elvis,” and “All Quiet on the Western Front,” the performance of this year’s best picture nominees on SVOD platforms has been lackluster, according to PlumResearch. Although the data indicate the audience for awards season fare has grown difficult to sustain outside of the industry, media analyst Kaare Eriksen notes that this appears to have little impact on the awards circuit.
Nielsen’s Shortcomings and Their Impact on Streaming Content Ratings
Despite the increasing popularity of streaming services, measuring the viewership of streaming content accurately remains a challenging task. Nielsen’s Streaming Content Ratings, the leading service that measures the audience of streaming platforms in the United States, has some shortcomings that limit its reliability.
For example, the absence of Paramount+ in Nielsen’s measurement mix is a considerable blind spot, given the service’s nearly 56 million customers at the end of 2022. It’s worth noting that the company expects to be able to report Paramount+ viewing data later this year, which should include data on “Top Gun: Maverick” from its initial release date. Currently, Nielsen reports viewing data for Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV+, Disney+, HBO Max, Hulu, and Netflix.
However, there are other shortcomings with Nielsen’s Streaming Content Ratings, including its U.S.-only coverage, which excludes viewership from other countries. In addition, Nielsen’s figures are based on viewing on connected TVs, leaving out mobile devices and computers. Furthermore, the firm extrapolates U.S.-wide estimates using data collected from households that are part of the Nielsen national TV panel.
Despite these shortcomings, Nielsen’s Streaming Content Ratings remain a useful tool for measuring streaming platforms’ audiences, particularly in the United States. The data shows that awards-targeted arthouse films have more limited commercial appeal than blockbusters like “Avatar 2” or “Top Gun: Maverick,” regardless of their critical acclaim and nominations. As VIP+ media analyst Kaare Eriksen notes, “Streaming popularity typically reflects what was popular at the box office.”
In conclusion, Nielsen’s Streaming Content Ratings have limitations, but they remain the most reliable service for measuring streaming viewership in the United States. While the service will undoubtedly improve in the future, it’s clear that streaming platforms’ audience preferences tend to reflect what’s popular at the box office.
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