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Nielsen: Internet Viewers Count as TV Homes

15 May, 2013 By: Doug McPherson

NEW YORK – Nielsen plans to start categorizing the millions of households that stream media to their computers, set-top boxes, game consoles, and other streaming devices as “TV homes.”

Homes will qualify as part of the TV universe if they have a broadband Internet connection and “at least one operable TV/monitor with the ability to deliver video,” Nielsen said in a statement last week. The change in definition will increase the universe of TV homes in the United States by 1.2 percent.

The “Nielsen Digital Program Ratings” pilot is set to run now through June, and despite being just a pilot, the company has already announced it’ll launch commercially later this year.

Beginning in September, when the new definition takes effect, there will be an estimated 115.6 million homes with TVs, Nielsen says. The announcement highlighted what Nielsen calls its advance universe estimates. About 294 million people older than two years live in those homes. (Nielsen does not include children under age two in its calculations.)

During the current television season, Nielsen has estimated the TV universe at 114.2 million homes. The company uses U.S. Census Bureau data and other sources, including the U.S. Postal Service and state governments, to arrive at its calculations.

“Though we see slight shifts reflecting trends in population changes, the advance universe estimates are largely stable and television viewing remains very strong,” Pat McDonough, Nielsen’s senior vice president for insights and analysis, said in a statement.

Nielsen had noted a reversal in the two-year decline of TV household numbers. The company plans to release its final estimates late this summer, just before the official kick-off of the 2013-14 television season.

Eric Solomon, a senior vice president at Nielsen, says as a companion product to Nielsen Online Campaign Ratings, Nielsen Digital Program Ratings will let clients better understand the online audience for their programming “by harnessing the same methodology Nielsen already uses to measure the audience for related advertising.”

“It’s hard to believe that they are just getting around to updating the ratings system to include streaming, but better late than never,” opined Jesse Schoff, a tech news writer.

The company intends to eventually include other medium in the ratings system as well, including metrics from sources like YouTube and Hulu.

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