Nielsen Promises to Dump Paper Diaries in 2017

By Kevin Eck 

By mid-2017, Nielsen says it will start switching its paper diary ratings system to People Meters for local TV ratings across all 210 DMAs.

According to Adweek’s Jason Lynch, Nielsen will “integrate return path data for set-top boxes and other electronic measurement—the same method it uses for its national ratings—which will allow it to do away with the paper TV diaries for good, ‘in early 2018.'”

Nielsen had continued to rely on paper diaries—in which Nielsen households record their television viewing by hand—even as it rolls out its total audience measurement tool, which it hopes will become the new industry standard for multiplatform ratings measurement.


A February New York Times story about Nielsen highlighted the continued existence of paper diaries, which led to another round of criticism about the company’s inability to keep up with the drastic shift in television viewing habits.

“As part of our overall local market enhancement measurement strategy, Nielsen is maximizing the strengths of various data sets, including PPM data and Return Path Data, to help our local clients understand their total audience by capturing all sources of viewing,” said Megan Clarken, president of Nielsen Product Leadership. “The media industry is in the midst of an important transition and people have endless options for viewing their favorite content. We are the only measurement provider that can directly measure the out-of-home television audience.”

Nielsen will also release a stand alone service that gives local markets the ability to measure audiences in bars, offices, hotel rooms and other out-of-home viewing locations.