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File this under “sign of the times.” Analysts say that if Netflix were given Nielsen ratings (the ratings which measure the number of television viewers), it could expect its numbers to outstrip those of ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox by the end of the year. With its original series and exclusive deals, Netflix has already started to act like a major television network. This analysis suggests that it may soon be a bigger network than the cable giants.

There are few footnotes to these figures that dampen the excitement a bit. First, the study relies entirely on Nielsen's particular brand of ratings. While the Nielsen ratings are pretty much the industry standard, they still are still far from perfect. Second, and perhaps most importantly, the analysis excludes online views for the major networks. In other words, they're counting all of Netflix's viewers while only counting the old-school television viewers for NBC, FOX, and the others. The network giants claim that an increasing number of their viewers take in their content online; if true, it's unfair to ignore the online figures.

Still, the analysis shows the growing power of Netflix. And when the best excuse the cable networks can give is “we have lots of viewers online,” that can only mean good things for cord cutters!

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