NBCU Turns to Three Researchers for Olympics Measurement

Not waiting for Nielsen to roll out its TVandPC single source measurement of TV and online viewing, NBC Universal is turning to a collaboration of three research companies to provide two-screen measurement of NBC’s coverage of the Winter Olympics. The three companies, Arbitron, Omniture and comScore, plan to deliver next-day viewing and Web site estimates for Olympics coverage (Feb. 12-28) on TV, cable, and online, both in-home and out-of home.

The project was announced Friday (Dec. 4) by Alan Wurtzel, president of research for NBCU during a forum held by the Advertising Research Foundation, who called the collaboration a “media research innovation.”

A research coup for Arbitron, the project marks the ratings firm’s first foray into integrated measurement of TV and online, putting it in direct competition with Nielsen for national audience measurement.

Olympics viewing across both screens will be collected from a single panel of about 2,000 consumers, drawn from Arbitron’s portable people meter ratings service in 33 markets.

Leveraging the mobility of the PPM, NBC will encode its broadcast and cable signals to track viewing both in and out-of-home. Because the PPM has a time stamp, it will also be able to track time-shifted viewing. For online viewing and Web site visits, participants will register both their home and work computers, allowing Omniture to track online viewing and comScore to process it.

“Olympics’ audiences are increasingly embracing a cross-platform approach, with a rich mix of broadcast, Web content and online video included in their Olympics experience. This research initiative will help us enhance that Olympics experience through better insights into how our audience accesses events home or away from home, using the television and the Internet,” said Wurtzel, who is also leading the industry’s quest for cross-platform measurement under the Council for Innovative Media Measurement.

Arbitron is hoping the Olympics project is the first of many. In September, the company formed a cross-platform media measurement group to leverage its PPM technology and named Pierre Bouvard to head it up as executive vp.

“Arbitron is at the forefront of cross-platform measurement,” Bouvard said. “We are proud to leverage the power of the PPM media measurement service to help NBC gain that insight for the Olympic programming at the consumer-level wherever they access media.”

Mediaweek is a unit of the Nielsen Co.