TV Meters Get A Boost From Nielsen


NEW YORK — As the 2017-2018 Upfront presentations continue to roll, with clients and marketers shuffling from venue to venue in Midtown Manhattan, Nielsen has given broadcast and cable TV channels a bit of a boost.

The dominant audience measurement company in the U.S. plans to install close to 15,000 TV audience meters in about 7,000 homes across the 140 markets presently measured by Local TV paper diaries.

The installation of these electronic meters is designed to provide the coverage needed to address what Nielsen calls “the limitations” of solely using set-top-box data for audience measurement in Local TV markets.

“We’ve made great strides to incorporate data from set-top-boxes into our Local TV measurement, however, in that process we’ve uncovered significant challenges with the data,” said Kelly Abcarian, Nielsen Product Leadership SVP. “To solve for these limitations, especially measuring growing audiences viewing via over-the-air broadcast, we looked at multiple solutions including online recruited panels and quick-query surveys. Ultimately, we concluded that only Nielsen’s proven TV audience meters allow us to address the challenges that come with set-top-box data.”

As of February 2017, more than 25% of viewing to broadcast stations in the 140 markets measured today by diaries came from over-the-air tuning.

The market with the highest level was at 50% over-the-air.

The TV audience meters will be installed in specific homes, including those viewing through over-the-air broadcast. The newly recruited households will serve as a true in-market viewing source with known demographics and TV viewing information, allowing Nielsen to project audience estimates for over-the-air tuning.

In an effort to adequately capture all in-market tuning, Nielsen will also include viewing from homes across the 140 markets using diaries for measurement that contribute to Nielsen’s National People Meter panel. The addition of the new metered homes and existing National People Meter homes will ensure that broadcast stations and digital sub​-​channels that are not included in set-top-box data are measured. Given the targeted placement of these added electronic meters, they will not contribute to Nielsen’s National TV ratings.

“Having a concrete foundation that represents the total market is necessary prior to layering more and more set-top-box data or any other type of big data,” Abcarian said. “Nielsen is committed to delivering comprehensive currency-grade measurement and providing reliable data for all local stations and networks.”

The boost by Nielsen was met with applause from NAB EVP/Communications Dennis Wharton.

“We have long believed that over-the-air TV station viewership has been undercounted by measurement companies as multicast ‘D2’ networks gain in popularity and TV antenna sales increase,” he said. “Today’s Nielsen announcement sends a positive signal about the renewed vitality of local and network broadcast television in an era of pay TV cord-cutting and cord-shaving.”