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NBC ratings guru: Viewing of top SVOD originals comparable to linear TV

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NBC's research chief says the notion that original series on the major SVOD services receive far more viewership than shows on traditional television networks is being overstated.

Speaking to journalists and bloggers who cover television at the Winter TV Critics Tour in Los Angeles Wednesday, Alan Wurtzel used new research from Symphony Advanced Media to carve, perhaps for the first time, a ratings picture for the data-secretive Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX) and Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN).

Measuring viewership of SVOD originals in the 35 days after each episode was posted among the key 18-49 viewer demographic, Symphony found that the Marvel-produced Netflix original series Jessica Jones averaged 4.8 million viewers per episode -- a performance comparable with the ABC hit comedy Modern Family.

Other Netflix originals also have solid but mortal viewership numbers, with the comedy Master of None averaging 3.9 million viewers and the Pablo Escobar-themed Narcos averaging 3.2 million.

Amazon's Man in the High Castle -- which the company said is its most-watched original ever -- averages out to 2.1 million viewers, according to the Symphony data. 

Wurtzel said that binging on SVOD series impacts the viewing behavior of consumers. But once they are done binging, they quickly return to linear form.

In about three weeks, he said, "people are watching TV the way that God intended" -- that is, via traditional, linear viewing.

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