The TV ratings giant said today that it will boost the sample size in 15 of its Local People Meter markets, including LA and NYC. Nielsen said its goal is to “increase the stability of the ratings and add utility for customers by improving representation for hard-to-reach demographics.” Starting this year, the company will increase its LA and NYC sample by 300 homes and by 200 in Dallas, Washington, D.C., Houston, Miami and Denver. Next year, it will expand sampling by 200 homes each in Charlotte, St. Louis, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Boston, Atlanta, and Phoenix — an increase of 30% for those markets. Nielsen also will expand the sample by 200 homes in each of its 31 set meter markets during the next two years, which will increase the sample size in those areas by nearly 50%. “Nielsen is committed to continuous improvement of quality local television measurement now and into the future,” said Matt O’Grady, EVP and Managing Director Local Media. “With this supplemental expansion, our local media clients will see increased stability through expanded metered samples and electronic measurement to diary markets that never had metered samples.”
The Nielsen study released today provides statistical evidence that there is a link between Twitter chat and a rise in TV ratings for some shows. The Twitter Causation Study analyzed minute-to-minute trends in Nielsen’s Live TV Ratings and Tweets for 221 broadcast primetime program episodes using Nielsen’s SocialGuide. The findings showed that Live TV ratings had a statistically significant impact in related Tweets among 48 percent of the episodes sampled, and that the volume of Tweets caused statistically significant changes in Live TV Ratings among 29 percent of the episodes. “Using time series analysis, we saw a statistically significant causal influence indicating that a spike in TV ratings can increase the volume of Tweets, and, conversely, a spike in Tweets can increase tune-in,” Paul Donato, Chief Research Officer, Nielsen, said in a statement. “This rigorous, research-based approach provides our clients and the media industry as a whole with a better understanding of the interplay between Twitter and broadcast TV viewing.”
The ratings company made this eagerly awaited announcement as ad executives converge on New York for Advertising Week, a dizzying collection of meetings and seminars for the industry. Nielsen’s new service is sure to create some buzz. Many TV programmers have been reluctant to put their shows online because they couldn’t demonstrate to advertisers how many people were viewing on mobile devices including tablets and smartphones. The ratings company says it now can offer that information through its new Nielsen Cross-Platform Campaign Ratings, available beginning today. Tests from March through August — with companies including ESPN, Facebook, GroupM, Hulu and Unilever – showed that Nielsen could offer “comparable metrics across TV and digital, measuring unique audience on each, along with overlapping audience and total combined unique audience,” the company says. Nielsen figures that more than half of Americans watch video online. In a separate report out today, Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism says that 12% of tablet owners watch videos daily, and 38% watch at least once a week.
Looks like that “inexplicable drop” in Nickelodeon ratings from September that Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman noted in a November 10 conference call with analysts still bedevils the children’s network. Its full-day total audience was down 16.7% in the week of November 20. That gave Disney Channel its first victory over Nickelodeon since August 2007, when Disney introduced High School Musical 2. Nick’s audience of kids 11 and under was off 11% in September vs the same month last year, -17% in October, and -19% for the first three weeks of November. The reports worried Miller Tabak analyst David Joyce enough for him to downgrade Viacom to “neutral” from “buy.” He notes that “advertisers are going to want to pay for the lower Nielsen ratings, which could be resulting in make-goods … that could pressure ad revenue” in the current quarter.
It’s curious, though: When Dauman spoke to analysts early this month, he made it sound like the trouble at Nick was history: He called it “a short-term phenomenon,” adding that “I always believe in looking forward, so we’ll go through that blip, it’s not material to overall company and we will move on.” He also put the blame on Nielsen’s measurements — not Nick’s programming — noting that “independent set-top box data … shows meaningfully different viewership trends.”
Arthur C. Nielsen Jr, whose family name became synonymous with the television ratings system, died on Monday in the Chicago suburb where he’d lived most of his life. He succumbed to Parkinson’s disease. He was 92. Nielsen went to work for the company his father founded in 1923 and transformed it into an international leader in market research. He became president of the A.C. Nielsen Company in 1957 and its chairman in 1975. He presided over the company’s growth from a modest operation, generating less than $4 million a year in revenue, to one with revenue of more than $680 million that expanded into New Media. The New York Times has a detailed obit.
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