While it's definitely true that TV viewing is completely different from what it was 20 years ago, with many consumers finding different and new ways to get their programming fix, one still can't underestimate the value of Nielsen ratings to advertising companies. Even though Nielsen has been dramatically slow in evolving its ethos and practices to account for anything but linear TV viewing, it's been announced that the company will now include statistics from both Hulu and YouTube, with hopefully more to be added in the future.
To be sure, Nielsen isn't incorporating the entirety of YouTube and Hulu's viewing numbers into its overall ratings equations. Rather, the company will complement its already existing live, DVR and On Demand stats with cord-cutter metrics geared to Hulu's recently implemented live TV service, as well as the similarly conceived YouTube TV. Thankfully, there won't be any medium-based exceptions in place, and Nielsen will be tabulating the numbers regardless of if people watched on laptops, phones, tablets, etc.
Of course, Nielsen has for years measured not just people watching the live-night airings but also those who prefer delayed viewing for one reason or another, with the Live+3 and Live+7 measurements sometimes offering more interesting numbers than those that come on the night of a big premiere. (Particularly when it comes to Better Call Saul and a couple of others, which can often more than double their initial audiences over a week's time.) Streaming live TV is still a fairly new thing, so those numbers will take a little time to grow, but streaming after the fact is definitely used more often to watch recent TV episodes, similar to On Demand viewings. As such, a startling increase will likely be seen once the first weeks of results start to come in.
Not only will these numbers play a huge role in how different shows' advertisers work, but it'll definitely have a role to play where decisions come into play about what gets cancelled and what gets renewed. If a new Fox drama is struggling on TV and in danger of getting the axe, it could very well be saved by a prominent audience following that's specific to either Hulu or YouTube, or both.
Even outside of the actual ratings totals, Nielsen's attention on Hulu and YouTube might shakes things up elsewhere. Particularly when it comes to the channels that don't have deals made with either of the streaming companies to host their programming. Will we see Hulu and YouTube's live TV services get boosted with a host of new options? Probably not, if the whole point is to keep things affordable.
None of this will present the complete puzzle, of course, as those are only two alternate options in an ocean of many, but there's no bad information in this case. What's the most common way you guys watch TV? Let us know in the poll below and stay tuned to hear just how things will change in the ratings game with Hulu and YouTube TV around. In the meantime, check out our summer TV schedule to see what's coming to the small screen soon.