Nielsen Creates Dual DVR Currency, Will Issue 'Live-Only' And 'Live' Plus 7-Day Ratings

Just as Nielsen is trying to put a lid on the controversy surrounding the roll out of local people meters in the major markets, a new decision on how to report time-shifted TV programming via digital video recorders (DVR) in all its national and local TV ratings services next year, is bound to stir a new round of debate. Nielsen, which in March first announced its intentions to begin including DVR households in its ratings beginning in 2005, Wednesday released the time table for that plan to clients (see below), and also revealed a decision to provide separate, alternate TV ratings reports based on "live-only" viewing that excludes any DVR playback or one that includes "live viewing" plus seven days of DVR playback. The alternate reporting scheme was devised as a way to accommodate the needs of advertisers and agencies, but is likely to cause fits among the major TV outlets.

"The availability of a dual currency means agencies will be able to plan and post omitting any playback -- if they choose," said David Zornow, head of TNG Research and an influential cable TV industry researcher. " That doesn't mean much in September 2005 when Nielsen first starts to report DVR and only 10 percent of TV households have a DVR, but three years down the line when this stuff hits critical mass the difference promises to be significant."



Nielsen said it does not actually know what DVR penetration currently is, but said it could be as high as 10 percent by the end of 2005 and issued the following schedule for including DVR households:

*April, 2005-DVR homes can be installed and measured in all local Metered Markets (excluding any installed Local People Meter markets)
* May, 2005-Diary samples will begin to be measured using an 8-day diary for DVR households to report DVR playback
* September 2005-DVR homes can be installed and measured in the National People Meter sample and in all Local People Meter samples. (This date was previously July 2005 but has been adjusted to accommodate changes to the National plan discussed later in this communication.)

The whole issue is expected to come to a head today, when Nielsen briefs clients on the new plan during a client meeting in New York.

"A number of clients requested that same day playback be included in the initial "live" overnight, and we spent considerable time evaluating this request," said Nielsen in its client communiqué on Wednesday. " We will not be able to include this feature in the first phase of reporting but it will be a top priority for a future release. In the interim, however, we will have the ability to provide clients with a "same day" rating (through 3:00 AM), on a custom basis for special events."

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