Nielsen Sees Progress With VOD, DVRs


Miami— Nielsen Media Research is working with top MSOs Time Warner Cable and Comcast Corp. to explore gathering TV viewership data off set-tops and to track video-on-demand usage, the rating service’s chief said last week.

Addressing Nielsen’s national clients, CEO Susan Whiting also urged customers to speak out against any federal regulation of TV ratings. Don’t Count Us Out, a coalition of black and Hispanic groups backed by News Corp., and several lawmakers have asked the Federal Trade Commission to get involved in the TV-ratings process.

“We think FTC or any government regulatory oversight is a bad idea — for all of us,” she said. “But we need your help in speaking out on this issue.”

Nielsen is working with Time Warner to improve TV measurement, looking into collecting viewing information directly from cable set-tops, Whiting said. That would be one way for Nielsen to expand its sample size.

“Time Warner and Nielsen have enjoyed a close relationship for many years,” Whiting said. “That relationship has recently expanded and now includes collaborative set-top box development work with Time Warner Cable to pursue advanced measurement techniques over and above traditional metering approaches by Nielsen.”

Whiting discussed several previously announced Nielsen initiatives aimed at helping get a handle on VOD and digital-video-recorder usage.

“Brian Roberts, the CEO of Comcast, has very recently made some important announcements about the directions his company is taking with regard to VOD as well as DVRs,” Whiting said. “We have been working closely with Comcast, as well as many others. That puts us in a strong position to move forward.”

She referred to Roberts’s telling the American Association of Advertising Agencies that Comcast would release monthly VOD-usage data from Rentrak Corp. to advertisers and programmers, starting in April.

Nielsen continues to try to improve the quality of its national sample, partly by adding 2,000 households nationwide, Whiting said.

In February the ratings service unveiled a plan to improve measurement and accelerate tracking of on-demand viewing, including a delay in the start date to report viewing data from DVR households in its national sample.

Nielsen wants more time to add “same-day” ratings as a third stream of DVR data.

Whiting also said Nielsen installed its first active/passive meter home March 3 in Fort Myers, Fla.

It’s a set meter that tracks which show is airing on a TV set, and will be linked with Nielsen’s People Meters .