TiVo Puts the ‘C’ in Local

Commercial ratings for TV stations may not be a pipe dream after all. TiVo this summer plans to launch the industry’s first local commercial ratings.
A version of its national Stop||Watch ratings service, TiVo’s new local service will provide second-by-second ratings data for programs and ad spots, both live and timeshifted.
Depending on client demand and business conditions, TiVo will launch the service in at least three and possibly as many as 10 markets.
TiVo, which rolled out its national Stop||Watch service in early 2007, is banking there will be plenty of demand for the local service, especially now that Nielsen’s C3 commercial ratings for network TV has become the standard.
Until now, there has been no local equivalent to C3 data. Nielsen’s local metrics, Live plus 3-day and Live plus 7-day, take into account timeshifted audiences to programs, but not commercials. Because they don’t know if anyone watched the commercials, several of the largest shops, such as GroupM, Starcom and Carat have said they would only buy based on Live ratings data (Mediaweek, April 13).
“The dearth of information on television audiences in local markets, especially for specific commercial viewership, is astonishing in this day and age,” said Todd Juenger, vp and general manager of TiVo audience research and measurement. Set-top box research data may be the only way in the near future to get to second-by-second local audience ratings.
“Nielsen has said that the transition to [provide commercial ratings locally] would be costly,” said Sam Armando, senior vp of research for Starcom, which subscribes to TiVo’s national Stop||Watch service. “But TiVo and others have that data, so that would seem like a logical place to start.”
The availability of TiVo’s commercial ratings data could make buying based on Nielsen’s Live plus 3-day ratings more palatable, or at the very least, provide insight into local commercial audiences. “It begins to address the question of how commercial content gets viewed locally,” said Shari Anne Brill, senior vp and director of programming for Carat, which also subscribes to TiVo’s national Stop||Watch service.
Although TiVo can’t offer demographic commercial data, it can offer larger samples than traditional ratings. Sample sizes range from 25,000 in the top 20 markets to 5,000 in the smallest markets.