Report: Nielsen Ratings to Include Streaming, X Box and iPad Viewing Starting in Fall 2013

Categories: 1-Featured,Broadcast TV,Cable TV

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February 21st, 2013

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. "


  • Jeff (Canada)

    This won’t really affect renew/cancel ratings of shows, will it? I mean, advertisers won’t give a damn if a show is doing good with the online streaming crowd and yet not getting the ratings where it matters (i.e. for the commercials those advertisers pay for, on good-ol-fasioned broadcast/cable).

  • Robert Seidman

    I can’t fault Nielsen for announcing something so they can say “hey, we have heard the people, and we tried…” That’s good PR for them. But it seems inevitable that sentence ends with “…but Netflix, Amazon, etc., didn’t want to pay to be measured by us!”

    There’s no financial incentive for Netflix or iTunes or Amazon to use Nielsen to measure *anything*.

  • Robert Seidman

    Jeff: no, it won’t.

  • Max Vrany

    @Jeff, basically yes. Nielsen has counted website streaming for sometime now, but only if the commercials on the website are the same national commercials that aired on TV. No network does that (as far as I’m aware), so it’s irrelevant at this point.

  • Shepherd


    No Jeff, I highly doubt it will affect what advertisers are willing to pay, and therefore will have no effect on renewal/cancellation decisions.

    The only outlandish theory that I an possibly come up with where this will have any impact at all would be that it might give salesmen additional ammunition when it comes to selling a show into syndication. Would these additional arguments actually sway potential buyers? I have no idea. But I could see some salesman trying to convince someone to buy, or trying to drive up the price by pointing out how popular the show actually is despite its broadcast ratings. Of course, we all know salesmen (and women) will already say just about anything to make a sale.

  • Fred

    What about Cable ON DEMAND? I watch most of my shows that way.

  • Fred

    Oh I don’t have a Nielson box, so it doesn’t matter.

  • Christian

    Darn. Thought this was an early April Fools thing lol

  • PurpleDrazi

    Great PR but it doesn’t mean much for show ratings.

  • Bobby

    Face it….the ratings will keep going down and down because the majority of people will keep on watching via On Demand, DVR, online viewing, etc.

  • ResearchPro

    DVR viewing is included in ratings up to 7 days after the program aired. And if a program runs on Video on Demand or online the same way as it aired on regular TV (same commercials) that viewing is included in the ratings.

  • AppleStinx

    Thus Nielsen wants to more accurately reflect the ways viewers watch television shows in the 21st century by sampling the same 23,000 households in the top 56 DMAs it already samples for traditional viewing. Different century, same universe. Let’s see what comes out of this.

  • Freddy Arrow


    “Face it….the ratings will keep going down and down because the majority of people will keep on watching via On Demand, DVR, online viewing, etc.”

    While I agree that that will one day be the case, the majority of TV watching is still done live.

  • TV Addict

    Will Hulu count? Because all the shows that I can’t watch on TV I watch on Hulu.

  • DKD


    The 23000 households aren’t only in the top 56 DMA’s. You are confusing the “major market overnights” with the national service. The 23,000 households are spread randomly among the entire population and reflect the demographic mix of the country.

  • ResearchPro

    The 23,000 households are not in just the top 56 DMAs. Although it would be nice if it was more than 23,000 households.

  • DW

    it will matter for the l+7 data. moonves has said recently that he would like the ad guys to pay for the L+7 since more people are watching via on demand and DVR. max has to hate this since this could only help revenge. :)

  • halaci

    This is a good PR and a good potential product for Nielsen, just not the way the fans would want.

    To be clear: On Demand, Amazon, iTunes do not need to be measured for the channels to know how many people watches their shows that way – they already know it, and not by estimation, but pinpoint accuracy. They have the server data from the OD downloads and Apple, Amazon pays them also per download, so they do not need any additional measuring. It’s on their “paycheck”. On the other hand, the competitors, the rival channels probably will be willing to pay for the Nielsen estimations.

    So it is a good product for Nielsen and a bone for the one-bit brain fans to chew on. I must admit though that it’s kind of depressing that no matter how many articles even here on TVBN try to explain that Nielsen numbers are for the advertisers (to know how much does it worth to pay for a spot), and not about the popularity, it’s all in vain.

  • Holly


    This will have no bearing on the L+7 measurement (or the C7 measurement, which is what Moonves is actually trying for). Online viewing will be measured, and reported separately.

  • TimsDale4ever

    I’m confused. It’s like the first paragraph says we will, and the 2nd paragraph says we won’t. Which is it?

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