Posted by: euromediablog | December 2, 2009

Online TV Viewing to be Included in Nielsen’s Ratings

Nielsen ist the biggest media research company in the world and as  such it is responsible for the audience ratings not only in the United States, but also in many other parts of the world including Europe.

The  audience panel is regarded as the core instrument of audience measurement. The american one for example consists of a represantative selection of 25000 american households whose television consumption is being measured daily with the help of the people-meter installed in their TV-Sets.

On the basis of this measurement method, the U.S. advertising industry has been able to adopt a universal currency for the measurement and verification of the television consumption. Until now, Nielsen’s ratings have been the undisputed currency of the audiovisual market on the basis of which  more than 70bn $ advertising revenues were distributed among the broadcasters. The company has been also able to expand beyond the borders of the United States and is now responsible for the measurement of more than 40 % of the world’s viewing behaviour.

The digital convergence, however. has been eroding the TV-set’s monopoly in the area of television consumption and  led to  significant changes in the viewing patterns for the last years , as the percentage of TV programmes viewed per Internet has grown rapidly in the last years. This development has gradually put Nielsens classical measurement method into question leaving the whole sector of internet viewing out of the television ratings system and endangering the rating’s representativity.

Now, Nielsen Media Research is about to act, as it is planning to introduce the measurement of internet TV viewing to its audience panels. Thus, the consumption of internet television will be calculated on the basis of the representative audience panel and added to the classical television consumption.

But will the 25 000 audience panel (in the US)  be big enough to detect all fluctuations on the audience market on- and offline? The drastic multiplication of audiovisual contents in the course of digitization has led to a progressive  fragmentation of the television viewing,  reducing  audience ratings in a constant pace.

In the times of mass media communication and communicators (until the year 2000) one could consider that the representativity of small ratings as statistically neglectable. In the times  of individualised communications and narrow casting this is not the case, as well targeted contents become more and more important for the advertising industry.

So , the questions this article has to pose is whether the classical audience panel is the right instrument for the measurement of audiovisual communication in the future? A communication that is about to experience further changes on the basis of fragmentation and individualisation.

For further information: new york times

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