Nielsen Insists Total Audience Measurement Performs As Upfronts Loom

As the upfronts near, Nielsen is trying to prove the efficacy of its total audience measurement.

The product, Nielsen’s framework for measuring viewership consumption across all screens, had a limited commercial release in early March.

Nielsen has been criticized recently by networks like NBC, which claim total audience measurement is incomplete since it doesn’t consistently measure all channels and streaming services.

Those discrepancies lead to inconsistent reporting.

But during a press event on Tuesday, Nielsen called out the progress it has made measuring across live TV and time-shifted viewing.

Despite remaining challenges, Nielsen claims that measuring live and time-shifted viewing together increases viewership numbers, as does accounting for delayed or binge viewing by providing an extended playback window after a program’s original airing. 

For example, CBS, among the first networks to tap total audience measurement, saw 54% incremental growth in viewership for some of its prime-time series when incorporating multiplatform viewing not captured by a same-day rating (e.g., time-shifted or binge viewing).

Viewership for “The Big Bang Theory” grew 67% over a 35-day period versus a live, same-day rating. Turner averaged 28% lift when factoring in VOD viewing extended to a 35-day window for TNT’s “Good Behavior.”

Nielsen also claims total audience measurement gives TV distributors better demographic profiles.

When measuring live, linear viewership based on a standard C3 rating [for the TNT program "Good Behavior"] the median age is 56. But the average age declines to 49 when factoring in video on demand, which tends to skew toward younger audiences, said Jessica Hogue, SVP of product leadership for Nielsen.

Audiences that tune in to VOD or that use DVR playback also tended to have a higher average household income.

Nielsen hopes these types of qualitative insights – such that out-of-home audiences for ESPN tend to skew younger and more female – will give it more leverage with media owners.

“If I’m a Nielsen client today and someone uses Apple TV to access linear content, historically we didn’t know the source of where that programming was coming from,” said Sara Erichson, EVP of client solutions and audience insights for Nielsen, “but Nielsen beginning last summer began reporting to our clients information down to the brand [application] level,"

“Nielsen’s streaming [services] meter will be a part of our core measurement moving forward,” she added.

 

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