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Nielsen To Debut Out-Of-Home Viewing Data
by David Goetzl, Thursday, Jun 19, 2008 8:31 AM ET
Nielsen's long-awaited service to track out-of-home viewing, a co-venture, will begin yielding data later this summer. The system offers the tantalizing prospect of measuring viewing in bars, hotels and workout gyms--something networks have argued they don't receive credit for from advertisers.

What will be called the Nielsen Out-of-Home Report--a joint venture with Integrated Media Measurement Inc. (IMMI)--was announced in April 2007 with an expected launch that September. Then the debut was postponed until this past April, and now again until this summer. It will be the first time that Nielsen provides any out-of-home viewing data.

The data that covers viewing of national broadcast and cable networks will be culled from a panel of 4,700. Panelists will carry cell phones from AT&T that run the software that allows tracking of the exposure to programs (participants receive $50 a month).

In addition to the national service, Nielsen will begin offering out-of-home data in six local markets by the end of the third quarter, according to a presentation by Nielsen Senior Vice President Kevin Svenningsen at the Promax industry event Wednesday.

The six local markets--with 500 panelists each--to be tracked are New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, Houston and Denver.

While Nielsen recruits the panelists, IMMI distributes the cell phones and collects and processes the data.

Nielsen says that perhaps 8% of viewing takes place out-of-home. If networks somehow are able to aggregate out-of-home viewing with what happens in the home--and persuade advertisers to pay for the added ratings--that could give them a significant financial lift. The scenario would likely be a boon in regard to sports programming (particularly for ESPN), since consumption in bars is high.

Zenith has already signed up to receive the Out-of-Home Report.

The data is expected to be broken down by program, time period and other segments.

Another salient point that emerged from the Nielsen presentation Wednesday was that the company is now giving networks the chance to gain additional ratings for shows viewed via VOD. Shows available on video-on-demand, however, must contain the same commercials and promos and mirror the linear broadcast. Then, the VOD viewing numbers can be aggregated with the traditional feeds.

However, for a host of reasons, VOD programming generally does not mirror the linear broadcast. Instead of the same commercial load, perhaps only a pre-roll spot runs.

Nielsen is also assembling a panel of 900 individuals in former national-sample homes in order to track viewing of TV shows on the Internet. The would-be convergence panel would take viewing of, say, an episode of "Desperate Housewives" on ABC.com and aggregate it with the viewing that takes place on-air. That data is also expected to be available this summer.


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