Nielsen: Web TV Audience Metric in Works

NEW YORK Nielsen sought to reassure its clients Tuesday that it was laying the groundwork to measure the viewing of cable and TV programs available on the Internet and include that data as part of Nielsen’s TV ratings.

The letter to clients from Sarah Erichson, president of media client services at Nielsen, followed announcements this summer from both Time Warner Cable and Comcast that the companies would test initiatives offering TV programs on the Internet to paying subscribers. 

By the end of the year, Nielsen said it would be “well positioned” to roll out its Internet meter, which allows Nielsen to measure Internet viewing alongside TV usage, to all people-meter households. The Internet meter is currently in a small sample of 375 people meter homes and in an online panel of 230,000 individuals.

Depending on how quickly clients proceed with their initiatives, Nielsen said it could complete installation of the Internet meter to all people-meter households by 2010 and fully implement dual measurement in 2011.

“In the meantime, we will continue discussions with all our clients about their ‘extended screen’ initiatives and will work with MSOs and programmers to support their tests of [Comcast’s] OnDemand Online and [Time Warner’s] TV Everywhere,” Erichson wrote.

“Though no one knows for sure which business models for online video will emerge as the most successful, Nielsen will be prepared to measure audiences no matter which ones prevail,” Erichson said.
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