As online & mobile viewership continue to increase, the industry will be battling with asymmetric information.
"Wall-garden" platforms like NetFlix, the upcoming HBOgo, and various upcoming dedicated streaming apps from CBS, Lionsgate, and the likes will have no desire to share their information to outsiders. After all, viewership is perceived to determine pricing of content and it's in the platform's best interest to keep it secret.
Nielsen Media Research, the storied viewership research firm, announced that they'll be providing estimation of online and mobile viewership for the media industry. NetFlix and the likes are, naturally, not too happy about the announcement as Nielsen is essentially providing statistics that were not formerly available for the content owners.
Unfortunately, I think it's going to be a huge mess as Nielsen Media Research, without access from NetFlix directly, is unable to provide actual data, just estimation from their own sample pool. But, those estimation might be extremely inaccurate if NetFlix doesn't confirm the findings. It'll be a story of "he said, she said" with the content owner and audience stuck in the middle.
While content owners might be tempted to use Nielsen to bargain with NetFlix, if the numbers are wrong and NetFlix doesn't value the content the same as the content owner does, then the content owners are at a disadvantage. After all, NetFlix doesn't make money from advertisement which is wholly dependent on viewership; that's the way of TV stations and cable networks. Simply put, content owners can't value viewership on an online platform the same way they value viewership on TV or cable. If Nielsen's numbers are accurate though, then online streaming providers will probably try to find ways to change their methodology so that it'll negatively affect Nielsen's measurement and it'll be end up being a game of cat-and-mouse.
Ultimately, this shows that whoever controls the accurate metrics, controls the negotiation.