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. "


  • BH


    Hahah same here!

  • HalCapone

    Nothing changes in the Fall of 2013 or no doubt in the near future beyond! But we get it, Nielsen, you just don’t want to be loved and admired as a cutting edge company keeping up with technology. Practically no one likes the ratings system currently in place and bashing Nielsen is nearly a competitive sport. There is really not a whole lot Nielsen can do other than offering to pay Netflix, Hulu, etc (rather than those companies offering to pay Nielsen) for this information which I assume would be a cross section of Netflix and Hulu users who are also Nielsen families. With so many viewing sources available to consumers on a plethora of devices, privacy issues become a very big deal, too. Advertisers will have to be the drivers of change, telling ratings companies like Nielsen what sources of ratings are acceptable and not acceptable. Someone will figure this out, with or without Nielsen.

  • Chrissy…

    digital ratings.. it’s about time, viewing methods have dramatically changed over the course of 10 years… ;-)
    i hope it helps some of these shows… the good ones anyway….

  • Chris


  • Fred

    My mom used to have a Nielson box. Once she changed her viewing habits (started recording most of her shows via VCR) they took her box her away.
    Same thing is going on today only with DVR, ON-LINE, ON-DEMAND etc….

  • Rare

    I’m assuming this will be similar to DVR numbers in that it won’t have a major impact on shows being renewed or cancelled, but it could at least be a contributing factor for the bubble-est of the bubble shows.

  • Jade

    I don’t really see the point but ok.

  • chezmoi

    I wonder who counts views on broadcaster websites, hulu etc? I think it will matter as merchandising, DVD sales and younger audiences may be attracted via the game console etc
    Finally it is only a MATTER OF TIME that someone produces a tv show without an ending which requires game play to create your own ending which can be posted online or on your own consolr to share with friends.

  • Ultima

    What about Cable ON DEMAND?

    It’s already counted.

    Also, while the Nielsen ratings don’t count online streaming, the networks do track those numbers. They’re just not as big as a lot of people want to believe and subsequently are of no value in making predictions.

    Here’s the total viewer numbers from FOX for the premiere of The Following…

    Live+SD – 10.42 million

    Live+7 – 15.10 million – 1.38 million (through 18 days after inital airing)

  • John

    I don’t understand. Can’t online content providers track viewers themselves? Hulu is going to know exactly how watched a show on Hulu vs. a “sample” from Nielsen.

  • Ultima

    I don’t understand. Can’t online content providers track viewers themselves?

    They can (and do) track how much is streamed and what is streamed.

    Nielsen will now start tracking if people are streaming.

    However, without a combined effort from both the streamers and Nielsen, they cannot moniter which shows are being watched by who and when and subsequently provide demographic information (i.e. ratings).

  • Jeff R.

    It’s “Xbox”, not “X Box” or “X-box”. I thought you guys wanted to maximize google hits…

  • Ultima

    Nothing changes in the Fall of 2013 or no doubt in the near future beyond!

    This improvement will help the parties involved decide when those changes are worth the cost.

    But we get it, Nielsen, you just don’t want to be loved and admired as a cutting edge company keeping up with technology.

    They’re in business to make money. It’s simply not worth the cost to measure what is, right now, a tiny slice of the viewership in more detail. Remember, the vast majority of TV viewing is still done live.


    That would be cool if that added On Demand too. It would give the channels a reason to show more episodes at a time.

  • PurpleDrazi

    Oh brother…

    I can already tell this is going to be misunderstood and add more fuel to the arguments of desperate fans.

    Get the new fan excuse bingo cards ready…


    Interesting–effective today the Billboard music charts are now counting You Tube hits as well as their ongoing streamlining charts & it caused a major shake up in the top ten singles this week.

    Gotta agree though, the Nielsen system is just window dressing to enter the 21st century. (like I should talk!)

  • John

    It’s Xbox not X Box! lol

  • rehabber

    So same old, same old, nothing new.

  • DKD

    Reading the comments section, some people get it. Some people don’t.

    As others said, anyone who already has a website that streams has the ability to count how many people are doing it. They don’t need Nielsen to count it for them.

    Nielsen’s ratings are primarily produced for advertisers to put a value on how many people see their ads. They aren’t going to want streaming or VOD or anything added to the rating they use unless the other delivery methods have the same ads. Today, if you watch a show on Hulu, you get different ads than aired on the network. So, the advertisers who bought on the network do not want the Hulu viewers added. Similarly, the advertisers on Hulu don’t want the on-air viewer count because their ads didn’t air there.

    The network that airs the show only cares about the advertising revenue they get from the show. So, if is selling the show to different advertisers on line than they do over the air, its up to NBC to track the revenue from each source. If sometime in the future, the networks start running the same ads online as they do over the air, the ratings will be combined.

  • Michael

    Looks like ratings will become a thing of the past. Live ratings no longer relevant! This will change the way we, as a society view television!


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