AP

Nielsen, Amazon Prime spar over who really watches football

Oct 25, 2022, 10:17 AM | Updated: Oct 26, 2022, 6:01 am

Arizona Cardinals running back Keaontay Ingram (30) celebrate his touchdown during the first half o...

Arizona Cardinals running back Keaontay Ingram (30) celebrate his touchdown during the first half of an NFL football game against the New Orleans Saints, Thursday, Oct. 20, 2022, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

NEW YORK (AP) — By the Nielsen company’s count, 7.8 million people watched Amazon Prime’s coverage of last Thursday’s NFL game between New Orleans and Arizona. But Amazon says no, there were actually 8.9 million people watching.

So which is it?

You’ll have to judge for yourself. After each of its Thursday night games this season, Amazon has publicly contradicted Nielsen in this manner, one of the boldest challenges ever to a company that for generations has monopolized the count of people watching programs on television.

Neither company is saying the other is wrong, but neither is backing down, either. The result is confusion, most notably for advertisers.

Nielsen, as it has for years, follows the viewing habits in a panel of homes across the country and, from that limited sample, derives an estimate of how many people watch a particular program. That number is currency in the media industry, meaning it is used to determine advertising rates.

Amazon, in the first year of an 11-year contract to stream Thursday night games, says it has an actual count of every one of its subscribers who streams it — not an estimate. The games are also televised in the local markets of the participating teams, about 9% of its total viewership each week, and Amazon uses Nielsen’s estimate for that portion of the total.

“We wouldn’t put out our number if we weren’t comfortable that it was accurate,” said Jay Marine, vice president of Amazon Prime Video and head of its sports department.

Through six weeks, Nielsen says the Thursday night games have averaged 10.3 million viewers. Amazon says the average is 12.1 million. Amazon’s estimate has been bigger than Nielsen’s each week.

“I don’t at all believe that Amazon’s numbers are not right,” said Connie Kim, Nielsen spokeswoman. “And I don’t believe that our numbers are not right.”

Since different methodologies are being used, it’s no surprise that there are differences in the estimate, she said.

“It’s going to take a little time,” Kim said. “As it evolves it should be one number. But we’re not quite there yet.”

For now, ad prices for the Thursday games are set using Nielsen’s numbers. But Amazon clearly has an incentive to let clients know that it believes more people are actually watching.

“You have to remember that this is new — new for Nielsen and it’s the first time there’s been actual data for an event like this,” Marine said.

The dispute has clear implications for the future. Streamers haven’t had much incentive for measurements of daily viewing to be publicized, in part because people don’t watch their shows the same way as broadcast television, and they haven’t needed numbers verified from a third-party source for advertisers.

But with Netflix about to introduce advertising, that can all change very rapidly. And if other companies develop technology that can measure viewing more precisely, the precedent has now been set for publicly disputing Nielsen’s numbers.

In prime time last week, NBC was the top-rated network, averaging 5.1 million viewers. CBS had 4.7 million, Fox had 4 million, ABC had 3 million, Univision had 1.4 million, Ion Television had 950,000 and Telemundo had 880,000.

TBS was the most-watched cable network, averaging 2.85 million viewers in prime time. ESPN had 2.68 million, Fox News Channel had 2.26 million, MSNBC had 1.09 million and TNT had 1.05 million.

ABC’s “World News Tonight” won the evening news ratings race, averaging 7.7 million viewers, NBC’s “Nightly News” had 6.5 million and the “CBS Evening News” had 4.7 million.

Here are the 20 most popular shows on prime-time television for the week of Oct. 17-23, their networks and viewerships:

1. NFL Football: Pittsburgh and Miami, NBC, 15.53 million.

2. “NFL Pregame” (Sunday), NBC, 13.09 million.

3. NFL Football: Seattle at L.A. Chargers, Fox, 12.81 million.

4. “The OT,” Fox, 9.88 milllion.

5. “Football Night in America,” NBC, 9.53 million.

6. “60 Minutes,” CBS, 7.97 million.

7. “FBI,” CBS, 7.11 million.

8. “Chicago Fire,” NBC, 7.05 million.

9. “NCIS,” CBS, 6.91 million.

10. “The Equalizer,” CBS, 6.9 million.

11. “Chicago Med,” NBC, 6.88 million.

12. “Young Sheldon,” CBS, 6.8 million.

13. “The Voice” (Monday), NBC, 6.23 million.

14. “The Voice” (Tuesday), NBC, 6.13 million.

15. “FBI: International,” CBS, 6.09 million.

16. “Ghosts,” CBS, 6.08 million.

17. “Blue Bloods,” CBS, 5.91 million.

18. Baseball: NLCS, San Diego at Philadelphia, Fox, 5.74 million.

19. “Chicago PD,” NBC, 5.58 million.

20. “The Neighborhood,” CBS, 5.51 million.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Arizona and New York attorneys feud over extraditing suspect...

Associated Press

Why Alvin Bragg and Rachel Mitchell are fighting over extraditing suspect in New York hotel killing

Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell says she isn't into extraditing a suspect due to her lack of faith in Manhattan’s top prosecutor.

3 days ago

A Gila monster is displayed at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, Dec. 14, 2018. A 34-year-old Color...

Associated Press

Colorado man dies after being bitten by pet Gila monster

A Colorado man has died after being bitten by his pet Gila monster in what would be a rare death by one of the desert lizards if the creature's venom turns out to have been the cause.

4 days ago

Police clear the area following a shooting at the Kansas City Chiefs NFL football Super Bowl celebr...

Associated Press

1 dead, many wounded after shooting at Kansas City Chiefs’ Super Bowl victory parade

One person died after 22 people were hit by gunfire in a shooting at the end of the Kansas Chiefs' Super Bowl victory celebration Wednesday.

11 days ago

This image from House Television shows House Speaker Mike Johnson of La., banging the gavel after h...

Associated Press

GOP-led House impeaches Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas — by one vote — over border management

Having failed to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas the first time, House Republicans are determined to try again Tuesday.

12 days ago

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, right, and Kenya's Defense Minister Aden Duale, left, listen during...

Associated Press

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin hospitalized with bladder issue

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has been hospitalized following symptoms pointing to an “emergent bladder issue."

14 days ago

Joel Osteen, the pastor of Lakewood Church, stands with his wife, Victoria Osteen, as he conducts a...

Associated Press

Woman firing rifle killed by 2 off-duty officers at Houston’s Lakewood Church run by Joel Osteen

A woman entered the Texas megachurch of Joel Osteen and started shooting with a rifle Sunday and was killed by two off-duty officers.

14 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Avoid a potential emergency and get your home’s heating and furnace safety checked

With the weather getting colder throughout the Valley, the best time to make sure your heating is all up to date is now. 

...

Sanderson Ford

The best ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day and give back to the community

Veterans Day is fast approaching and there's no better way to support our veterans than to donate to the Military Assistance Mission.

...

Canvas Annuity

Interest rates may have peaked. Should you buy a CD, high-yield savings account, or a fixed annuity?

Interest rates are the highest they’ve been in decades, and it looks like the Fed has paused hikes. This may be the best time to lock in rates for long-term, low-risk financial products like fixed annuities.

Nielsen, Amazon Prime spar over who really watches football