Nielsen's Manish Bhatia, president of advanced digital client services has a really good write up on The Promise and Perils of Set Top Box Data up on the nielsen wire blog. Sure, he has some biases, but it's a really good read with some important points. Like:
There are significant swings in ratings for networks and popular shows when we compare viewership from the Nielsen National People Meter (NPM) sample to viewership from various cut-back NPM samples representing Wired Digital Cable-only homes or Satellite only homes. Some examples from the ‘08-’09 season:
- Cable networks would do much better in Digital Cable-only homes - as we would expect - with some networks getting a lift of 20+% in audiences.
- The Fox broadcast network would do 4% better with Digital Cable-only homes, while the CBS broadcast network would lose 6% of its audience.
- American Idol would do 12% better with Digital Cable-only homes, but 7% better with Satellite homes.
- Ratings for Desperate Housewives would be 12% higher with Digital Cable-only homes, but 6.5% lower with Satellite only homes. That is a swing of 18.5% for a single show.
- The Mentalist gets slightly lower ratings with either Digital Cable-only or Satellite only homes.
Separately, Ed DeNicola on Media Posts' TV Board has up a post about how more dialogue is necessary to further the usefulness of set top box data and some of the issues and problems that currently exist:
However, like any great new invention, there are some very large challenges that will need to be overcome to make STB data useable as an analysis tool and potential currency for ad sales transactions. In the trade press, at industry meetings and conferences, you often only read or hear companies talking about the benefits of STB research. There is not much discussion about the real issues that need to be overcome in order for the full potential of STB research to be realized. Following are some items about STB data that you may or may not know: read the rest (registration might be required)