The Nielsen Co. has made the decision to expand its definition of television viewings beyond traditional TV to include technology which is becoming more and more prevalent in the daily lives of television viewers. Nielson will introduce a comprehensive plan that will capture all video viewing, including viewing that is done on broadband, Xbox and iPads.
In a meeting in New York on Tuesday of the 'What Nielsen Measures Committee', representatives from major TV networks, local TV stations, cable TV networks, advertising agencies and big brand advertisers came to the decision that expanding measurement tools would be a smart move. This committee decision is in no way binding, but a source at one the big four networks is elated about the idea. For years networks have been complaining that ratings captured by traditional means are no longer a true reflection of viewership, and this decision by the committee is a step in the right direction.
Nielson expects that by the beginning of the next television season in September of 2013, new hardware and software will be in place in nearly 23,000 TV homes. These systems will function to measure not only the homes that use cable, satellite and over the air broadcast to view television (nearly 75% of the population) but also other devices such as Netflix and Amazon, Xbox and PlayStation.
A second phase of measurement improvements will be introduced at another time which will incorporate the use of iPads and tablets that receive broadband in homes. The goal of Nielson is to be able to measure viewing on iPads by the end of 2013.
These changes in measurements will not immediately effect ratings, as Nielsen will only be capturing how much time is spent on these types of viewings instead of actual ratings. To improve ratings, services such as Netflix would have to agree to encode their programming signals so that the Nielsen software can identify and trace their source.