Nielsen "TV household" ratings to include cord-cutters without TVs

By on February 22, 2013, 1:30 PM

Nielsen will soon expand its TV ratings system to include online viewers, it told clients yesterday. Armed with its broadened definition of what constitutes a "TV household", Nielsen hopes to more accurately reflect modern day media consumption and advancements in technology -- an important undertaking if Nielsen wants to subsume the growing number of people cutting the cord.

The company's modification now defines a "TV household" as a home in which exists "at least one operable TV/monitor with the ability to deliver video via traditional means of antennae, cable or satellite receiver and/or with broadband connection." Notably, TVs and computer monitors are now interchangeable, just as antennas, boxes and broadband are all granted equivalence.

Nielsen Company's work with ratings and market analysis dates all the way back to the 1920s. The firm began its enterprise by collecting statistics for radio shows, subsequently making the transition to television programming in the 1950s during a time when TVs were widely adopted. Now, the company hopes to plunge head first into the latest way consume media: broadband.

While Nielsen's embrace of cord-cutters can only be a plus for the firm and its clients, its approach does exhibit one caveat: its online results may lack a degree of specificity. Nielsen will be able to tell how frequently and how long households view broadband-delivered content; however, the ratings company won't necessarily be able to identify viewership in relation to specific shows and movies. To know precisely what participating households are viewing, Nielsen needs cooperation from content providers (e.g. Netflix and Hulu).

Netflix though, doesn't put much stock in traditional Nielsen-style ratings. "When you say ten million people watch a show, that really doesn’t tell you anything," Netflix executive Ted Sarandos recently stated. With the absence of being propped up by television commercials, Netflix need care only about its subscriber base -- something that unique, high-quality programming can help drive.

User Comments: 3

Got something to say? Post a comment
treetops treetops said:

Well it does tell you what shows you should probably keep on netflix, lol he acts like they don't even pay attention to what people watch on netflix, im sure they get a pretty penny for all the info they collect on their users viewing habits

Guest said:


Shouldn't the content providers already have this information to a more specific and useful degree?

I'm pretty sure Youtube, Netflix, SPstudios, Hulu,, and all the others already have this information. are on the way out. Data tracking is inherent in modern content providers, good freaking luck!

Guest said:

The Nielsen ratings have NEVER, ever reflected what viewers are actually watching. The ratings have ONLY reflected what is being watched by people who could tolerate the Nielsen methodology.

I had a Nielsen Diary and because of its time-consuming draconian requirements, I gave up after 4 days. They require you to mark in 15 minute segments what every TV in your house is doing. If you have a TV in your bedroom that only watch for 30 minutes at bedtime, then you have to mark it as "not being watched" every 15 minutes for 24 hours, every day for a week. Do you realize how tedious this becomes for every TV you have in your house?

Lots of people have failed to complete their diaries. That is a stat Nielsen doesn't reveal. According to them, my 1 diary represented 60,000 people Well, 60,000 people couldn't tolerate their methodology. How many others were there?

Load all comments...

Add New Comment

TechSpot Members
Login or sign up for free,
it takes about 30 seconds.
You may also...
Get complete access to the TechSpot community. Join thousands of technology enthusiasts that contribute and share knowledge in our forum. Get a private inbox, upload your own photo gallery and more.