Set-Top Box Service DigitalPlus Commercialized

Nielsen Media Research has officially commercialized its set-top box audience analysis service, known as DigitalPlus, with the signing of its first customer, Washington, D.C.-based National Geographic Channel. Nielsen is now out in the market calling on other prospects.

Like competing available services, DigitalPlus offers customers second-by-second ratings analyses that enables a more detailed look at TV viewing patterns through every second of content, both programs and commercials, that air on channels. For example, data from the service gathered in the third quarter among prime-time ad-supported cable channels shows that longer commercial pods tend not to retain audiences as well as shorter pods.

But to do the analyses, researchers must have access to cable and satellite digital set-top boxes that are placed in viewers’ homes when they subscribe to those services. Nielsen currently has an agreement with Charter Communications’ Los Angeles cable system and is believed to be talking to other cable and satellite companies about gaining access to their data.

Other research companies in the second-by-second ratings business include WPP-owned TNS, DVR pioneer TiVo and TRA, which matches set-top box data with purchasing information culled from shopper marketing cards.

Commenting on the deal, Brad Dancer, svp, research at the National Geographic Channel, said the Nielsen DigitalPlus data was beneficial because “it offers a direct link between set-top boxes in subscriber homes and set-top boxes in [the Nielsen] people meter panels, enabling Nielsen to provide context for the raw set-top box data and integrate it with a wealth of other data sets.”

Jed Meyer, svp, Nielsen DigitalPlus, said the service is designed to meet customer demands for more detailed ways to measure consumer engagement with content “as well as retention rate across commercial breaks.”

Adweek and Mediaweek are units of the Nielsen Co.