UK government calls on Amazon & Netflix to disclose viewing data

UK government calls on Amazon & Netflix to disclose viewing data

The UK government has reportedly called on streaming giants comprising Amazon and Netflix for the disclosure of viewing data. The order is applicable for shows originated by UK-based public service broadcasters, comprising the ITV, BBC, Channel 5, and Channel 4.

According to sources close to the matter, ministers have agreed with a recommendation that was made by the DCMSC (Digital, Culture, Media, and Sports Committee) of the British Parliament. Back in March 2021, the committee had stated that streamers should share top-line viewing data for enabling complete analysis of PSB reach.

For the record, Amazon, Netflix, Apple, and others are notoriously guarded regarding the unveiling of viewing figures. In evidence to the DCMSC, Amazon and Netflix argued that the disclosure of such information would be commercially sensitive.

Disagreeing the same, the DCMSC stated that it does not believe that disclosing top line viewer data regarding PSB-originated content to Ofcom and the relevant public service broadcaster would be commercially sensitive. As stated by the lawmakers in March 2021, streaming services form a significant ‘second window’ for public service broadcasting content but in the absence of viewer data, it is hard to completely evaluate the reach of PSBs.

The DCMSC, in its report regarding the future of UK’s public service broadcasting, added that the data should be disclosed to both media regulator Ofcom and broadcasters. The UK government stopped short of suggesting that Netflix provides ratings to competitors. However, it stated that the company should at least given out information to Ofcom.

Responding to the DCMSC report, the UK government stated that it agrees with the Committee that there is a case for needing streaming services to dispense top line viewing data to Ofcom for assisting them with their evaluation and analysis of the PSB system.

Ministers stated that they are hopeful that this can be carried out on a voluntary basis in the initial instance by leaving open the possibility that the UK government could be legislating data sharing.