(Reviewed) – If Netflix were a TV network, its audience would surpass that of ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox within a year. That’s according to a new study by FBR Capital Markets, which leveraged Nielsen ratings to assess the relative popularity of the internet’s most popular streaming media service.
The comparisons aren’t entirely fair, as Variety points out, since Nielsen ratings do not fully account for the use of VOD or DVR viewership, nor do they cover online-video views. Furthermore, TV networks follow a completely different operating schedule and fundamental business strategy than streaming services like Netflix and Hulu.
Nevertheless, the findings point to both Netflix’s soaring popularity and the diminishing importance of broadcast media in home entertainment.
Historically, Netflix has been cagey about sharing user data, but two bits of info it does release is its total number of subscribers and the number of hours they collectively stream. Using those figures, analysts at FBR were able to arrive at the Nielsen rating Netflix would get if it were a traditional broadcaster: roughly 2.6 in Q1 2015, or about the same as ABC and NBC over the same time period. That’s despite spending less on content rights than the major networks.