Sign of the Times: Nielson Ratings Soon to Include Web TV Stats

Many consumers have figured out they can save a bundle by cutting out cable/satellite service in favor of streaming media. Hulu Plus, for example, runs $8 per month and gives you access to many of the same TV shows that appear on cable TV networks, including extended director's cuts of sitcoms like Parks and Recreation. Toss in another $8 for Netflix, and now you have access to a wealth of TV shows and movies for $16 per month, all on-demand and with less commercials than regular TV. It makes sense for a lot of people, so why isn't Nielson counting those viewers?

That's a good question, one that even Nielsen couldn't answer, so the company has decided to get with the times and start tallying Americans who have TVs hooked up to the Internet, The Hollywood Reporter reports. Nielsen also hopes to be able to measure video viewing on iPads and other mobile devices by the end of the year.

The announcement comes just a day after Billboard and Nielsen said it would add U.S. YouTube video streaming data to its platforms. Nielsen came to the conclusion that it also needed to add streaming data to its TV ratings after meeting with media executives in New York.


"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 vice-president Pat McDonough told CBC News. "Nielsen also conducted research into homes that did not fit the current definition. We found that many of these homes still had TVs but were using a broadband source to view content."

The next TV season begins in September, and by that time, Nielsen will have updated hardware and software tools in the nearly 23,000 TV homes it samples. Streaming videos from services like Netflix will then be counted, as will streaming data from TV enabled consoles like the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

This also bodes well for new and existing platforms, such as Google TV and Intel's upcoming streaming TV service.