Nielsen to Offer Minute-by-Minute Ratings

NEW YORK Nielsen Media Research has finally agreed to offer clients easier access to minute-by-minute audience estimates for national TV programs, the company told its clients Monday. The new product will be available to clients, at an additional cost, beginning in October 2005.

Formerly, the only way clients could access minute-by-minute data was through Nielsen’s NPower application, which many clients found cumbersome to use and time consuming.

The new minute-by-minute figures will be incorporated into a data file called the All Minute Persons by Persons File, which clients can export into their own software programs to analyze and manipulate ratings information. The respondent-level persons file will also include age/sex demographics crossed with household and other persons characteristics.

“Throughout 2004 we have met with a number of clients to assess potential support for this initiative,” said Nielsen, owned by Adweek Magazines parent-company VNU, in its client communication dated Sept. 27. “Based on our assessment of the marketplace, we believe we have the client support necessary to move ahead with definitive plans for developing this product.”

The data could have several important ramifications for how the TV advertising business is conducted in the future.

“You may start to see advertisers incorporate commercial ratings as part of a new business model,” said Brad Adgate, senior vp and director of research for Horizon Media. “A lot of similar data is already beginning to be made available from DVRs and set-top boxes which can go down to the second. Nielsen’s move is a response to that.”