Nielsen TV ratings to include more than just people who watch TV

By Daniel S Levine,

Nielsen is finally catching up with the millions of people who do not watch TV shows on television anymore. The researching company announced plans to expand its definition of TV for its ratings to include people who are watching shows on gaming systems and broadband.

On Wednesday, The Hollywood Reporter reported that the What Nielsen Measures Committee held a meeting the day before, suggesting that the company put new measuring devices in the 23,000 homes that Nielsen samples starting in September 2013.

The new devices would track viewing not just on TV, but on Netflix and Amazon streaming services and video game systems like XBox and Playstation 3.

AdAge reports that Nielsen confirmed its new plans on Thursday.

“Over the last 12 months, Nielsen has explored expanding the current definition of a TV household to more accurately reflect media consumption and technology advancements. Nielsen also conducted research into homes that did not fit the current definition,” Pat McDonough, senior VP-insights and analysis at Nielsen said in a statement. “We found that many of these homes still had TVs but were using a broadband source to view content.”

McDonough explained that Nielsen will now “in effect including any home with a TV that can receive video via an external source” in its ratings.

As Wired put it, the new definition means that if you are a so-called “cord-cutter” - that is someone who has decided to only watch shows online now - you will be included in Nielsen’s statistics.

Nielsen’s new efforts will likely keep the networks happy, since they have seen their ratings in the key 18-49 demographic fall over the past season. Still, the plan right now doesn’t include iPad or other tablet viewing and it won’t be able to supply specific numbers for Netflix. Instead, Nielsen will only be able to tell how much time you spend on Netflix, not what you are specifically watching.

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