The good people at Nielsen are stepping things up. As you know, Nielsen is the company that measures and tracks TV viewership. They can tell you how many people watch which shows and how old those people are. Up until now, these numbers have been based only on viewing via a traditional television set. (They include DVR views, but only if it was watched within three days of the airdate. So if you’re like me and you’re saving up an entire season of Reba’s Malibu Country to watch in one tragedy-filled, Funyun-soaked sitting, your eyeballs will not count towards her total viewers.)
Nielsen announced this week that they will begin counting viewers who watch TV shows on a broadband connection too. They’re even working on ways to tabulate views on mobile phones, iPads and non-iPad tablets that people are usually ashamed to own.
These changes will go into effect this September and they will also include views through your Wii or other game consoles and online services like Hulu, Netflix and Amazon. Including these homes will add thousands of new viewership opportunities. Just think – if everyone who likes Smash watches it online, this announcement will probably make things only slightly better for them.
“Consumers are accessing content in new ways that fall outside of our traditional definitions and if we don’t expand, we could be missing an emerging trend,” a representative from Nielsen said in what is widely considered to be one of the most obvious statements in recent history. Exceptions include: “It turns out that Ricky Martin is gay,” and “O.J. Simpson has broken the law.”
Services like Netflix have always kept viewership numbers for their original programming, such as House of Cards and the forthcoming fourth season of Arrested Development, but they usually keep those numbers to themselves. “If we keep it a secret, then it’s more special,” said some guy who also probably has an account on AshleyMadison.com.
Even so, Nielsen will now be able to tabulate information about who in the household is watching which shows on broadband and how much of it they are watching. That’s the kind of stuff that people who work in advertising (Hi there!) like to know. As they say, “I’d rather 2 million college sophomores watch my show than 10 million sixty-somethings.” I don’t know if they actually said that. Our HR person once told me, “As they say, she’ll survive.” She was probably referring to the same people, right?