Long, Short of Nielsen’s New Metrics

On Sept 19, the Wall Street Journal broke the news that among many things, Nielsen plans to add social media measurement to its TV Ratings beginning Fall 2014. However, there are a few measurements that should be noted which show how Nielsen is adapting to the changing audience landscape.

1. TV ratings data will include information on tablet and smartphone viewership. This is huge news because according to the Pew Research Center, 34 percent of Americans own a tablet and 85 percent of those users have watched at least some TV on their device.


2. A Twitter-related ratings service will launch beginning Sept 30. When Comedy Central revolutionized the game by adding a hashtag at the bottom of the screen during the “#TrumpRoast,” it started a phenomenon that engaged viewers on multiple platforms. With this in mind, Nielsen aims to track during-program and during-commercial engagement.


3. Beginning Sept 30, Nielsen will acquire Arbitron Inc. for $1.3 billion. Arbitron is a radio measurement company that will allow Nielsen to measure “capabilities outside homes,” with the approval of the Federal Trade Commission.

The biggest drawback to the news is that even in 2014 when it unveils the new metrics, it will still only monitor viewership with TV ads, which means no Hulu, Netflix or HBOgo. Also, many news sources showed annoyance toward Nielsen for being so “behind the times.”


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3 Responses to Long, Short of Nielsen’s New Metrics

  1. Leila O'Hara says:

    This is a smart move by Nielsen that demonstrates the relevancy and significance of social media metrics in the entertainment industry. During last night’s Emmy Awards, I noticed that many entertainment bloggers, magazine writers and other critics were using social media outlets like Twitter and Tumblr to express their opinions on the show. In fact, key topics about the awards in the form of hashtags like #weirdemmys and #JeffDaniels were trending during the telecast of the show. It’s logical that Nielsen would try to measure these indicators in order to track an increasingly distracted audience that may use up to three devices at once (television, tablet and smartphone).

  2. Hailey Paquette says:

    It will be interesting to see what type of measurement they will offer on Twitter, but it seems surprising that they wouldn’t offer something for Facebook as well. It’s also surprising that they have not offered a more solid measurement system for social media engagement on the “second screen” during live TV. The use of laptops/phones/tablets to chime in on social during live TV has become huge in the last several years, and it’s an excellent measurement source that they’re missing out on right now. Perhaps further down the road?

  3. Lauren Basile says:

    While these are major steps in the right direction for Nielsen, they still have a long way to go in order to keep up with the social media times. Adding ratings from tablets and smartphones is crucial when so many people watch TV shows on screens other than their television. The Twitter ratings service sounds interesting but I’m wondering how they are going to measure this? At least Nielsen is trying to measure social media now because from a millennial standpoint, social media makes more noise and builds more hype than any traditional platform. The next logical step would be for them to include ratings with Hulu and Netflix because these are also important tools with devoted viewers. How long will it take for Nielsen to catch up?

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