Fans and networks have long complained that Nielsen’s measurment system does not accurately reflect the ways viewers watch television shows in the 21st century. Now the rating service is doing something about it. According to The Hollywood Reporter, on Tuesday, the What Nielsen Measures Committee, which is comprised of representatives from broadcast and cable networks, local affiliates and advertising agency executives, agreed that by the start of the Fall 2013 season, Nielsen will measure “viewing via devices that deliver video from streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon, from so-called over-the-top services and from TV enabled game systems like the X-Box and PlayStation,” as well as traditional television viewing.
This change will involve installing new software and hardware in Nielsen households. However, this does not mean that the daily ratings numbers will include viewers who streamed an individual episode of a given show. “The shift doesn’t mean Nielsen will begin to provide ratings data for, say, Netflix. Nielsen will capture how much time is spent on that kind of viewing, but to actually provide ratings, Netflix would have to agree to encode its program signals so that Nielsen software can identify them and trace their source. ”