Nielsen will begin measuring viewers who watch TV programming via broadband Internet connection, the company confirmed today. Long criticized by broadcast TV networks for what they believe is significant viewership that regular ratings miss or exclude, Nielsen said its research found that many homes that didn’t fit its “current definition” of a TV household — “that many of these homes still had TVs but were using a broadband source to view content.” As a result Nielsen will begin “including any home with a TV that can receive video via an external source” in its measurements. As Advertising Age noted, TV programmers “have howled” that because Nielsen has failed to recognize increased viewing over the Internet and via tablets, mobile devices and video-streaming sites like Netflix and Hulu. The networks believe that failure to measure those viewers has resulted in insufficient data to secure higher ad rates. However, Nielsen’s decision won’t include tablets like the iPad. Nor will they do anything to measure the viewing of ad-free content on Netflix where users watch whole seasons of shows in marathon sessions. Additionally if commercial breaks in a program viewed on Hulu or a network’s website don’t match the ones that supported a broadcast episode on the respective network, Nielsen is unable to provide a unified rating of all those views. At least not yet.
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