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Nielsen’s Ratings to Include Internet TV

6 Mar, 2013 By: Doug McPherson

CHICAGO – Nielsen’s ratings will start including Internet-only TV households in its sample, and it will start measuring viewing on Internet-connected TVs in its existing sample households. The changes are slated for September in conjunction with the new 2013-14 television season.

Nielsen will spend the next several weeks contacting customers and trade groups to explain the impact and implications of the changes. Executives say that impact will be small (about six-tenths of a percentage point) but that the change is needed now because Internet-connected TV is likely to grow and become more of a factor in the future.

Brian Fuhrer, a senior vice president at Nielsen, told MediaPost, “We don’t think it’s [the impact] going to be dramatic.” Fuhrer added the change will not impact the official trading currency used by advertisers and agencies – such as the so-called C3 ratings in national TV negotiations – because Nielsen will be storing the data from the Internet-connected households and TVs in a “separate bucket.”

C3 ratings represent the TV audience for the average of all commercial minutes, and that much of the viewing done via Internet-connected TVs is to alternatives sources such as online video or Internet-based platforms like Hulu and Netflix that make TV programming available without their original commercial loads, according to MediaPost.

One exception, Fuhrer says, is alternative TV delivery systems such as Comcast’s Xfinity service, which provide conventional TV programming and advertising via the Web.

Nielsen will include homes that don’t get any traditional TV signals via terrestrial, satellite or cable TV. While they represent a small percentage of total viewing (usually younger college or post-college folks or poorer households), their demographics and behaviors will be new to TV audience measurement, and could represent valuable insights for the future as more homes become Internet-only connected.

Fuhrer says no date has been set on including ratings and measurements of viewing on wireless connected devices including smartphones, tablets and even TVs connected to wireless gadgets.

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