FORT LAUDERDALE, FL: Netflix was the leading US-based television "network" in the fourth quarter of 2015, according to the chief research officer at Turner Broadcasting System.

"Netflix reports its gross streaming hours," Howard Shimmel, Turner Broadcasting's CRO, told delegates at the Media Insights & Engagement Conference organised by the Institute for International Research (IIR).

"We've built a methodology at Turner to [assess] the Netflix numbers. We estimate how much is US versus international, how many people per stream are watching, and how much is on the big TV, versus on some other device.

"Based on our methodology," he continued. "Netflix was the number-one rated TV network total day, US-based. (For more, read Warc's report: Turner Finding: Netflix #1 US TV "network".)

"Is it a perfect measurement? No. Do I feel better, as a researcher, giving my management some line of sight that's based on some data and instincts and what I believe to be a pretty solid rationale? I think the answer is, 'Yes'."

And the rationale behind this logic – though it may be uncomfortable for some legacy institutions – was grounded in a new digital reality.

"Traditional media companies have to evolve our businesses to keep up with the changing world. Whether it's launching direct-to-consumer businesses, on-boarding a [data-management platform] that enables big data-driven capabilities [or] launching new ad products that optimise against audiences – not age or sex," said Shimmel.

"Research is intimately involved in all of these initiatives. We, as an industry, have the opportunity to have a much bigger, more important seat at the table then we've ever had."

Turner is helping to fill that seat, Shimmel continued, with a "Provable ROI" product: "We're no longer guaranteeing age or sex. We're guaranteeing sales outcomes for an advertiser. That's the vision of what we need measurement to be."

And, he added, "We need research companies … to make something like that part of their syndicated measurement package."

Data sourced from Warc