Nielsen will now measure online TV audiences with its new product, Digital Program Ratings, The Wall Street Journal reported. Broadcast and cable networks such as NBC, Fox, ABC, AOL, CBS, Univision, Discovery and A+E have elected to be part of the pilot program for the ratings system, which will run from May through July.
Nielsen Digital Program Ratings will track views primarily on the networks' own desktop websites, with additional coverage for mobile devices planned for the future. The Digital Program Ratings will provide overnight data such as the number of unique viewers, stream counts and reach by age and gender.
The networks have been putting pressure on Nielsen to update their methods to include digital views. Nielsen has slowly been adapting to changing viewing habits, with last year's debut of Online Campaign Ratings to measure the impact of digital advertising and February's decision to measure broadband viewership. In December, Nielsen introduced its Twitter TV Ratings System, which was a step forward but a purely social measurement of television popularity. According to Nielsen, the Digital Program Ratings will use "the same methodology Nielsen already uses to measure the audience for related advertising."
This summer's pilot program is a test, and a broader commercial release is set for later in the year.
"What we want to do with the pilot is prove this concept," said Eric Solomon, svp for Global Digital Audience Measurement at Nielsen. "We want to understand what some of the 'gotchas' might be before we do a commercial release."