Nielsen Pauses Effort To Report Broadband-Only Audiences Watching Local TV

Variety

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Nielsen is putting its efforts to divulge broadband-only households watching programming from local TV stations on hiatus, after various requests from the TV industry.

Because of technical issues, TV stations and advertisers can’t be sure viewers in a particular geographic location get to see programming carried by the station serving their region, said Pat McDonough, senior vice president of insight and analysis at Nielsen, in an interview. As a result, she said, a Chicago resident can sometimes end up seeing a feed from a New York station. And the commercials that appear with the programming are rendered ineffective, because consumers end up seeing ads that in many cases they cannot act upon.

“We were asked by our local clients, ‘Can we take a pause on this?’” McDonough said. “The marketplace will get there. They are working through it on all of these sides, both the technology and the buy/sell side.”

Nielsen said in early 2013 it would include broadband-only homes in its Television Universe Estimate, an effort  to measure the media behavior of the average U.S. viewer in an evolving technological landscape. Even though the number of households watching TV in this fashion is relatively small – just 1.5% of U.S. TV homes are broadband-only, McDonough said – Nielsen believes the numbers are poised to grow along with improvements in the U.S. economy. Now Nielsen said it will cease including local-viewing activity via broadband in the mix “for the time being.”

“We’re not seeing a lot of traditional, established households who already have full-service cable or satellite giving it up, but we are seeing more young people having it, and I think that is likely to continue as more young households are formed as the economy improves and younger people are moving out” of their parents’ homes, she said.

Nielsen intends to continue measuring broadband-only viewing of national programming, she said, either as a stand-alone behavior, or as part of its general measurement of TV audiences, so long as the commercial load in a program seen via the broadband stream matches that of the program when it was broadcast on traditional television.

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