skip to main content
Close Icon We use cookies to improve your website experience.  To learn about our use of cookies and how you can manage your cookie settings, please see our Cookie Policy.  By continuing to use the website, you consent to our use of cookies.
Global Search Configuration

Straight Talk Media & Entertainment

Ovum view

In recent weeks, Netflix’s reboot of the beloved family sitcom Fuller House was declared the most popular television show in America by Symphony First. Although Netflix has criticized Symphony’s OTT video measurement methods as “irrelevant,” the data suggests the challenge subscriber video-on-demand (SVOD) services pose to traditional TV is entering a new phase.

According to Symphony First, in the first 35 days after it became available, Fuller House attracted 14.4 million viewers in the 18–49-year-old age group – the demographic that forms the basis of most advertising deals negotiated in the US by linear broadcasters. The show outperformed The Walking Dead, which attracted 9.6 million 18–49-year-old viewers in its most recent season. It was not, however, an apples-to-apples comparison because Symphony First collected viewing across 35 days while traditional ratings only measure seven.

Symphony First is no stranger to controversy. In January, NBC’s president of research, Alan Wurtzel, used data from the vendor to claim that NBC’s shows were watched more than buzzworthy Netflix originals among adults in the 18–49-year-old age group. Ted Sarandos, chief content officer at Netflix, immediately dismissed the company’s methodology as inaccurate and irrelevant because Netflix does not sell advertising and does not track demographics. Netflix maintains a code of silence around its data, occasionally teasing the entertainment industry with snippets of information and declaring each Netflix original a “hit.”

Symphony First is not the first company to try and apply a yardstick to SVOD viewership. Two years ago Gfk announced a pilot study based on traditional self-reported diary methods, and many content rights holders quietly conducted research of their own to understand the impact this was having on the viewing landscape. What became apparent was that serialized drama was a key driver of consumption, including titles that did not necessarily deliver strong ratings on linear TV. The ability to control the viewing experience – say, by “binge watching” multiple episodes in one sitting – can make these shows more enjoyable and easier to follow, often contributing to their success on linear TV as opposed to cannibalizing it.

Since then, Netflix has made considerable progress with its own serialized drama series, such as House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, and Narcos. These originals can be described as darker, quirkier, and more niche than most mainstream TV shows, and they are aimed at the urbane adult viewer, just like Amazon’s comedy shows. Such original commissions will continue to build and differentiate the Netflix and Amazon brands as competition for the time and money of modern TV audiences intensifies. The apparent success of Fuller House suggests that Netflix can also successfully deliver mainstream scripted TV with broad appeal. This is an ominous development for traditional TV broadcasters, given that Fuller House is just one of 20 projects in Netflix’s push into original shows for families and kids.

Straight Talk is a weekly briefing from the desk of the Chief Research Officer. To receive this newsletter by email, please contact us.

Recommended Articles

  • Service Provider Markets, Consumer & Entertainment Services,...

    MWC 2018 Highlights

    By Ronan De Renesse 27 Feb 2018

    Over 20 of our senior Ovum analysts and consultants attended this year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona at the end of February. In between meetings, briefings and presentations, our analyst team were blogging and tweeting about key developments, trends and rumors. Have a look through our daily MWC 2018 Highlights to find out what happened.

    Topics 5G AI IoT Cloud Payments SDN/NFV Smart home

  • Internet of Things

    IoT Viewpoints 2018

    IoT Viewpoints explore the IoT opportunity in 2018 and beyond. Download our latest e-book to get our newest collection of thought leadership articles on the emerging IoT trends, technologies and opportunities.

    Topics IoT

  • Consumer & Entertainment Services

    US pay TV: Is it facing an existential threat?

    By Adam Thomas 28 Mar 2018

    With US pay TV having endured the worst year in its history, thoughts have inevitably turned to the future. The likelihood remains that the immediate future will remain highly uncomfortable for everyone except the scaled multinational digital platforms.


Have any questions? Speak to a Specialist

Europe, Middle East & Africa team - +44 (0) 207 017 7700

Asia-Pacific team - +61 (0)3 960 16700

US team - +1 646 957 8878

Email us at

You can also contact your named/allocated Client Services Executive using their direct dial.
PR enquiries - Call us at +44 788 597 5160 or email us at

Contact marketing -

Already an Ovum client? Login to the Knowledge Center now