Alert reader "Carl LaFong" pointed out in our comments that Nielsen Media has, for quite some time, tracked and continues to track VCR recording as part of its household ratings reports. I honestly couldn't believe that was the case.
Carl sent an email to me with two graphic excerpts from a Nielsen NTI Pocketpiece report (after the break) and explained:
Note the column "VCR Contrb." That indicates the portion of the national household rating accounted for by VCR recording (not necessarily viewing).
Nielsen includes this data in its national data for network, cable and syndication. Virtually every number you see from Nielsen, the media, the press and ad agencies includes VCR record data, for every data stream from "Live" to "Live plus 7." It can be manually removed, but rarely is. It may not be mentioned by the disseminators of the info, but VCR record has been part of the ratings since the dawn of the peoplemeter era. I've also included a page from the Pocketpiece which gives the definition of the VCR Contrb column.
My life's mantra of "Often Wrong, Never In Doubt" would be untenable if I were not able to have my ignorance regularly washed away. From now on, we'll let folks know that the average audience calculation by Nielsen Media does include VCR recording.
More information on the Nielsen NTI Pocketpiece:
The Pocketpiece is the best known and longest continuously produced Nielsen Media Research ratings report. It reports the level of audience during the quarter-hour in which a commercial aired. The user can spot the influences of “specials,” changes in competition, or the impact of nonnetwork viewing sources. In addition, information on general television viewing alerts the user to the best audience potential for a product and to changes in trends as they occur.
The Pocketpiece report is issued weekly, 52 weeks a year, and contains a wealth of information about national television including:
* Household and persons audience estimates for all sponsored broadcast network programs
* Demographics matched to specific daypart target audiences
* Quarter-to-date program averages
* Premiere-to-date program averages
* Program type averages
* Household and persons TV usage by time period
* VCR contribution by program