Nielsen Adding (Some) Online Viewing To Ratings

By Jason J. Hughes 2010-01-26 12:28:13 discussion comments
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It looks like Nielsen is ever so slowly working toward getting more and more accurate ratings statistics. The problem remains, however, that they're actually more interested in the ratings for the commercials than they are for the programs. That's why I take this report from Zap2It that they're adding online viewing to their reports with a boulder of salt.

They as much as admit that they will only include online streaming sources that include all the commercials that aired during the television broadcast, which rules out popular online portals like Hulu and the networks' own sites. Instead, they'll be looking to thinks like the Fancast Xfinity and Time Warner Cable's forthcoming TV Everywhere.

What this really might mean, though, is that online streaming of videos might start adding in all those annoying commercials we run to the web to avoid. After all, if NBC.com could add all those online viewers for Heroes simply by plugging back in the commercials, you know they'd do it. I could quickly see Hulu following suit.

More and more viewers are watching their television online, and particularly those in the coveted 18-49 age bracket. If that's still the demo the advertisers want to reach, this play by Nielsen could help those advertisers tremendously, while hurting online viewing -- legal online viewing, anyway.

Still, I think many online viewers would still watch their shows at work, or school on their computers even if they had to sit through the commercials. It's the convenience of "on demand" and location that draws them there as much as it may be the ability to watch commercials. And a more accurate representation of what we're actually watching, across all platforms, can only improve the industry.

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