IT’S IMPOSSIBLE TO KNOW WHO’S WATCHING WHAT:
The way TV is watched is change a lot and very fast. Nielsen plays catch-up as streaming era wreaks havoc on TV raters. Via: NY Times
“Dennis Cheatham said he felt as if he were receiving a message from the past last May when a package arrived in the mail from Nielsen asking him to participate in the survey that for decades has detailed the television viewing habits of Americans.
“He was eager to take part, but quickly ran into a problem. Mr. Cheatham’s family canceled its satellite subscription about five years ago, and the roughly 20-page timetable diary Nielsen provided for him to record his family’s viewing made no room to log the hours he, his wife and two children spent streaming shows on digital outlets like Netflix.
“I just kind of shoved it in there and wrote Netflix wherever I could,” said Mr. Cheatham, 40, a professor of graphic design at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. “Is Nielsen not paying attention to technology? Don’t they notice that something has changed?”
“Mr. Cheatham is not the only one asking that question. Nielsen, the 93-year-old company that has long operated an effective monopoly over television ratings in the United States, is facing blistering criticism from TV and advertising executives who see it as a relic of television’s rabbit-ears past as the digital revolution transforms how people consume entertainment. New competition — notably the $768 million merger this week of the media measurement companies comScore and Rentrak — is forcing Nielsen to evolve.
“One of the latest public criticisms was made last month, when Linda Yaccarino, the ad sales chief at NBCUniversal, complained that Nielsen was failing to accurately measure TV and account for all of the television group’s audiences. “Imagine you’re a quarterback, and every time you threw a touchdown, it was only worth four points instead of six,” she said at the International CES trade show.
“The stakes are high. Some 70 billion in advertising dollars are traded in the United States each year based on Nielsen’s ratings, and hundreds of television programs live or die based on that viewership data. Chief among the complaints about Nielsen is that viewers across the country like Mr. Cheatham and his family are streaming billions of hours of video on outlets like Netflix, Amazon and Hulu, but that their behavior is not being captured in industry ratings based on Nielsen data. “The TV ratings system as we know it is outdated,” said Tim Nollen, a Macquarie analyst.”