Nielsen to Swell `People Meter' Sample

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Nielsen Media Research wants to increase the size of its national 'People
Meter' ratings sample over the next three years, and those plans have left
clients wondering how big their rate increases will be.

The ratings company has told subscribers it could as much as double the 5,100
households that currently take part in its national People Meter demographic
ratings reports.

Nielsen may increase the number of homes in its national sample by 2,000 and
bring local metering to a total of 10 key markets, with 400 to 800 meters in
each DMA, senior vice president and spokesman Jack Loftus said.

The research giant's goal is to get national and local clients to share in
the cost of the upgraded People Meter samples, Lifetime Television senior vice
president of research Tim Brooks said. Nielsen has kept the two samples separate
until now.

Nielsen has long been looking to supplement its national People Meter sample
in a cost-effective way, Discovery Networks U.S. senior vice president of
research Steve McGowan said. He added that the research firm might eventually
'weight its local data and fold [it] into the national ratings data.'

Nielsen's 10-market expansion will be an expensive proposition, McGowan said,
although the ratings service has yet to name its price.

'Like everything, it's going to boil down to costs and what the market will
bear,' he said. Nielsen might want to wait for an ad-sales turnaround.

Brooks predicted that Nielsen will face 'tough negotiations,' and not because
of the sluggish economy. Broadcast-station groups are reluctant to spend heavily
on research 'even in the best of times,' he added.

Nielsen may disclose a new rate structure that would reflect the costs of
expanding the national sample by 2,000 homes 'in a month or so,' Loftus said.
Local-market rates won't be set until afterwards, he added.

The rest of the 3,000 new People Meter homes would be spread across the 10
local markets.

Nielsen has not yet named the nine DMAs it will add, but at a recent meeting
with the Association of National Advertisers, the ratings company said New York,
Los Angeles and Chicago are likely candidates, according to
attendees.

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