Nielsen is making an assumption using a sampling statistic based on 5,000 homes what the approximately 113 million U.S. television-viewing homes are watching.
Yet online, exact amounts of viewership is much more possible. Hulu knows exactly (almost exactly depending on the constraints of their web analytic providers) how many people are watching which shows, how many people drop out and watch shows only half way and they also know the mix of shows people are watching. For example, they would know that a high percentage of people who watch the Simpsons also watch Family Guy, etc.. Sure, Hulu has their “most popular videos” category but they don’t show how many views to substantiate their claim of what is most popular.
You would think they would advertise things like, “Come see the most viewed show on Hulu!” but they don’t, why not? They are hiding something. I bet there is some conflicting data between what the Nielson ratings show and what online shows and they don’t want their advertisers to know about it. And their “most popular videos” category is probably anything but the most popular. I think they cherry pick which clips they want people to watch more of based on which shows demand the highest costing CPMs.
What if Arrested Development is the most popular? But since that show is not airing on TV they don’t want people to like it more, they want people to like The Office more so they can get those people to tune in on Thursdays to sell more advertising. Is their new show Community, which is on the top row for most popular, among the most viewed? Doubtful, I bet they want more people to be exposed to the show since they have a lot riding on it becoming a success. Does Hulu take stocking fees like in supermarkets where networks pay them to put their show on the homepage? Maybe.
For sure they have some good reasons why they don’t reveal which shows get the most views.