Nielsen Hastens TV-Plus-PC

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Nielsen, responding to pressure from TV programmers and advertisers, is accelerating plans to measure Internet activity among a subset of its National People Meter panel, aiming to provide by August 2010 a “single-source” measurement for both television and online consumption of video content.

Previously, the media-measurement firm had told clients the full rollout of the Internet metering software wouldn't happen until 2011. Nielsen's current plan is to deploy the “TVandPC” Internet-measurement software to approximately 7,500 National People Meter households — representing about 20,000 people and 12,000 computers — starting Dec. 23 and finishing by Aug. 31, 2010.

“This will enable the measurement of online viewing to television content among the same People Meter households that are the source of Nielsen's national television ratings,” Sara Erichson, president of Nielsen's media client services for North America, wrote in a letter to clients last week.

Nielsen's revised schedule comes after a consortium of 14 media companies, ad agencies and marketers — the Coalition for Innovative Media Measurement — formed this summer to foster the development of new forms of audience tracking, including cross-platform viewing.

Another major factor that drove Nielsen to move up the date for the TV-plus-PC ratings was the cable industry's move to adopt “TV Everywhere” services, such as those from Comcast and Time Warner Cable. Nielsen has said online views of the same ads could be counted toward overall TV ratings.

However, Nielsen spokeswoman Karen Gyimesi said, the company is not yet announcing “when we will be able to add TV Everywhere into the ratings — this is only about the rollout of Internet measurement into our TV panel.”

At an Oct. 16 meeting Nielsen hosted for cable operators, programmers, broadcasters, ad agencies and advertisers in New York, “there was broad client support” for the TVandPC concept, Erichson said. However, she acknowledged, some wanted Nielsen to speed up its timetable for delivering the combined ratings.

“Discussion focused on the attention that must be placed in balancing speed of deployment with quality,” Erichson wrote.

Nielsen has been testing TVandPC measurement with 375 households. The company said participation in the Internet measurement piece among households currently metered for TV will be optional. “If a household refuses to allow its computer usage to be measured, it will still remain in the panel for television-only measurement,” the company said in a document explaining the rollout.

Nielsen originally launched the Anytime Anywhere Media Measurement (A2/M2) initiative in 2006. The TVandPC initiative is separate from the 200,000 computers measured in the Nielsen Online panel.

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