Hollywood may be finally ready to catch up to how viewers consume content in the age of streaming video and other on-line services.
According to the New York Times, the Nielsen service is considering adjusting the way it measures ratings to include those who watch shows on-line as “television households.” The move has the potential to add to the sample of homes that are rated by the company. The company pledged to measure TV viewership on iPads and other mobile devices in the future.
The new plan comes after two years of study and decision by the Nielsen Company. While some networks use DVR ratings to compile and adjust overnight ratings, many network executives felt like actual eyeballs and viewers for a show were lost by not counting numbers from iTunes, Hulu and other official viewer outlets. Many times some shows have a solid following and trend well on social media sites like Twitter without that following necessarily translating into Nielsen numbers.
Nielsen’s decision won’t have an immediate impact on the ratings system that governs billions of dollars in advertising decisions, because just 0.6 percent of households in the United States meet the new description.
Right now, most Internet views of their shows are not counted in the TV ratings that serve as a kind of nationwide popularity contest, either because there are no ads attached (see Netflix) or because the ads are not exactly the same as the ones that appeared on the original TV broadcast (see Hulu). But new services are popping up that stream TV shows and ads without the need for cable.
The new definition “will include those households who are receiving broadband Internet and putting it onto a television set,” said Pat McDonough, the senior vice president for insights and analysis at Nielsen. Currently a “television set” is the flat-screen kind, but in the future a tablet computer like an iPad could also be considered a TV set.
The new definition also applies to homes that have cable but also have extra TV sets that are hooked up only to PlayStations, Rokus or other Internet devices.
The changes emanated from a measurement committee comprising Nielsen executives and two dozen representatives from networks and advertising firms. The committee met in New York on Tuesday and discussed Nielsen’s proposals. They were subsequently obtained by The Hollywood Reporter.
The proposals, Nielsen said in a statement, were necessary to “more completely reflect media consumption.”