So What Can Nielsen Actually Measure?

from the things-we-know-and-things-we-know-we-don't-know dept

One consequence of all the changes in television viewing habits — through technologies like DVRs, downloads and on-demand services — is that it’s becoming increasingly difficult to accurately track how many people are actually watching shows, which can be a problem both for broadcasters and advertisers. Nielsen is trying to maintain its role as the gold standard in TV audience measurement, though it appears to be having some trouble adapting to new technology. It now says that it will track what college students watch, the article calling them “only one unmeasured viewer group of many”. Furthermore, it will only track students whose families are already a part of Nielsen’s surveys, and will include their viewing in their families’ stats, rather than as separate households. So even if Nielsen collects the data in significant quantities — which isn’t a certainty given news of how many DVR users they follow — its meaning will be obfuscated. So when the ratings don’t manage to include plenty of groups of people, or include the data in a meaningful way, are they really that useful at all?

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Comments on “So What Can Nielsen Actually Measure?”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: No Subject Given

isn’t there some kind of ratings add-on for the mythtv hippies?
I’m surprised that TiVo et al aren’t offering something, doubly so if they weren’t building something by now. Viewing habits of PVR people seems to be the next (if) untapped resource, and even I see the potential in a market that’s only gonna get bigger.
Hey, I don’t mind (anonymous) usage statistics either, and I long for the day when insignificant me has data valuable enough for a company to spondor my DVR rental in exchange for it. I just know that’s not happening this year.

Mike Liveright (profile) says:

Re: Pay for usage (OK)

I agree, I’d accept any reasonable “bribe”, including the survival of a good DVR system, for allowing a rating service to access my usage anonymously.
1) I want the DVR and Service to do it openly so that I can Opt-out if I want.
2) I want them to commit to not relating my usage with me personally. I may be willing to give then demographic information and if I am paid for it, some extra info, but I DON’T want advertisers, the government, etc. to be able to target ME because they have info as to my personal viewing habits.

Anonymous Coward says:

No Subject Given

Usage tracking is easy and is common through individual viewing channels (TIVO, digital cable boxes, video on demand, etc), reliably linking it up to demographics is more difficult as there can be issues with data protection laws – Neilsen solves the problem through controlling samples.

The first commenter seems most on track as presumably to get his free DVR he would fill out a nice big questionaire.

The problem for Neilsen is are they effectively going to be able to track every possible viewing channel.

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