Nielsen, you know, the folks who do TV ratings are starting to come around. They are going to start measuring video everywhere or as they said in the various industry articles, they are going to “follow the video”.
It took’em long enough!
For years Nielsen has dragged their feet or flatly rejected to change their methods. They hold a monopoly over the Television industry and apparently saw no reason to change their flawed methods. Granted a lot of people in the media probably saw no reason to fix or change the system either since they were making money hand over fist. To prove my point, they still rely on diaries as a measurement tool in the majority of television markets today. These are booklets sent out to Nielsen families during sweeps periods (February, May, July, November) to see who is watching what. Of course this method is flawed because they rely on the human condition. They rely on people recalling what they were watching and when everyday for a month.
This is changing…finally.
By 2008 Nielsen plans to have “mailable” meters in TV markets 61-125. These markets include Charleston, Boise, Omaha, Baton Rouge, and Colorado Springs. This will not solve all the problems but at least it will make the data electronic and easier to manage as opposed to looking through stacks of diaries (hanging Chad’s anybody?)
Nielsen also plans on measuring viewing on mobile devices like iPods and will combine their Internet ratings with the TV ones.
In my view the biggest move they are making is by measuring viewing in places like bars, airports, and office viewing. Can you imagine what the ratings will be for people like CNBC or College Football games now?
Why didn’t they measure these things before? Why have they relied so much on diaries up to this point? One reason: they have no competitor or equal. I can also guarantee you that a lot of people in smaller markets who are number one in their market fought against it too. But luckily for us the viewer and the TV industry the rules are going to go through a change.
These improvements in audience measurement mean better competition between TV stations and better choices for advertisers. This will eventually force TV stations in small markets to adapt to the changing media industry and move across different distribution channels to get every single dollar they can. It will force people within the industry to change their way of thinking and will, I believe, reassert my belief that those holding on the old school broadcast/cable model will see that they are shinning the brass on the Titanic. Harsh words yes but sometimes the best way to get people to pay attention is to hit them over the head with a baseball bat. The bat is finally in the hands and ready for a big swing.