Nielsen Friday announced plans to merge online viewing of TV programs into its so-called C3 ratings, which are the official currency for buying and selling advertising in the national TV marketplace. Nielsen described the plan as "extended screen reporting," and said it would be implemented after it completes the rollout of Internet meters in its national TV ratings panel by the end of August, with initial data being made available to the industry starting with the month of September.
The change will add yet another source of viewing -- online -- to the time-shifted and "live" viewing that currently comprise Nielsen's C3 ratings standard.
Nielsen said the timetable for implementing the changes would be as follows:
* Ratings will initially be released as evaluation data, on a delayed basis, and in parallel to standard production data which will remain unchanged.
* The first set of evaluation data (for the month of September) will be released sometime during the fourth quarter and no later than the end of the year. Nielsen said its intent is to provide data as early as possible in the fourth quarter. As the year progresses, and more of the development work is completed, Nielsen said it will be able to refine the delivery date.
* At the start of February 2011, evaluation data will cease to be produced, and the standard Nielsen production data moving forward will include qualifying online viewing.
"In the near term, Nielsen will create a small client committee to work with us on defining, in more precise terms, what online program and national commercial viewing qualifies for combined reporting as well as to work through editing and crediting rules," stated Nielsen President-Media Client Services, Sara Erichson. "Concurrently, we will continue to talk with all clients -- across all client segments -- about their measurement needs. As previously noted, Nielsen's cross-platform measurement solutions -- including the rollout of Internet meters in the National sample -- are being designed to support different business models and capture the multitude of ways in which video content is presented online."