Nielsen has long been the leader in providing the statistics surrounding television viewing habits.  This information was used in everything from setting television advertising prices to helping markers promote television shows, and much more.  Over the last decade, however, the ratings provided by Nielsen have been getting less and less valuable, because they only included information about people who watched the show on traditional television outlets.

If someone watched the show using a whole-house DVR, for example, it wouldn’t be counted.  Those subscribing to streaming services like NetFlix and Hulu were also ignored by the stats.  This is all about to change.  Nielsen has just announced that starting with the 2014-2015 television season; they will include digital video consumption to their tracking.

They have created a software developer kit (SDK), which will be available in mid-November, so television studios can get more accurate information.  This SDK will allow Nielsen to accurately track traditional television viewing as well as modern digital television outlets.

Megan Clarken, EVP with Nielsen, said “We’ve been working hard to deliver this new SDK and are excited to be able to deliver a single client solution that supports both the linear (TV style) and dynamic (Internet style) ad models.  This unified encoding approach for video enables measurement to follow content across screens and ad models.”

Included in this new digital tracking will be mobile viewing, which has been growing rapidly over the past few years. When gathering information about mobile, Nielsen will be using census-style measurement which will match up content with the providers such as Facebook.

This is all in addition to the ratings measurement partnership with Twitter that Nielsen been working on recently.

It seems that Nielsen is finally bringing their video tracking and rating systems into the digital age.  Why it took so long is anyone’s guess, but television studios will undoubtedly be very happy to have access to this type of information going forward.  In addition, it should show just how many people are watching television content through their computers or mobile devices, which could open up many opportunities for marketers who are interested in promoting video content.


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