Networks Want a Better Accounting of All That Television Online

Editor's Note: This story incorrectly refers to Nielsen Online Campaign Ratings as the data source for ABC's mobile content consumption growth. The correct source is ABC's internal data. A separate correction has been published.

Would it surprise you, once it’s all sorted out, that even with a barrage of online video, that viewing of actual television content is not down very much at all?

I’m still thinking about that myself. But if you add up all the TV-generated content that can be found on YouTube, Hulu, Netflix, Amazon and all the others, it just might be that the amount of time spent watching original online video content is just a sliver.

 If you fine-line that down to original professional made-for-online video (rather than user generated content), it’s quite possible that the online video revolution is measurable and significant but not headed-toward-overwhelming.



Someday, we’ll know.  As the largest content generators--the broadcast and cable networks--tilt more and more toward online versions of themselves, the pressure is on Nielsen to create measurements the largest users and the largest advertisers feel at home using.

They will feel at home using it because it will end up counting viewership exactly what they want it to be counted, which is what happens when the biggest clients get involved. reports that the networks think the Internet audience is being severely undercounted, which means a substantial number of viewers watching television over the Internet (on an iPad, for example) aren’t being counted.

Since traditional TV viewing on the Big 4 is down—by 20% at Fox this year—getting TV audiences counted online is crucial. Lyle Schwartz, managing director at WPP Plc, tells Bloomberg that an accurate Nielsen count would add as little as 3% but as much as 12% to TV’s ratings.  That, obviously, is huge.  

Just as obviously, there ARE numbers for online viewing, from com.Score for one. They’re just not numbers the biggest content makers, or the biggest advertisers, want to use. That’s why Nielsen’s  new efforts to count online viewership, the pilot program called Nielsen Digital Program Ratings, announced at the end of last month, will be significant. It purports to measure audiences for TV content viewed online from participating networks  (A+E, ABC, AOL, CBS, The CW, Discovery Communications, Fox, NBC and Univision that began this month and will go through the end of July.

That data could be dramatic.  Adam Gerber, the ABC vice president of sales development and marketing , said in an AdAge story that consumption of ABC content via its existing app surged 71% from February 2012 through February of this year.*  
2 comments about "Networks Want a Better Accounting of All That Television Online".
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  1. Peter Benjamin from MyOffices, May 15, 2013 at 2:35 p.m.

    Online media metrics is what we are delivering at Its simple list your feed with us and we can deliver the metrics in real time. What Nielsen is afraid of is the real numbers which are not as great as they make it out to be. We are looking to raise funds at and will look to launch the Tv Mobile platform with full metrics soon. The average viewer is a touch and go viewer. Its 15 minutes tops. And thats why new content has to be created that is built for this format.

  2. Emily Duffy from VideoElephant, May 16, 2013 at 4:31 a.m.

    I think they area of illegal downloading and streaming is very much ignored when calculating just how significant the switch to online TV viewing has been. Viewers are used to getting to see what they want, when they want - how can genuine platforms compete when they simply don't have the volume of content yet?

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