Nielsen's Periodic Apples To Apples Report

The media biz has been comparing apples to oranges for awhile now, so Nielsen’s newly released Comparable Metrics Report for Q3 of 2015 is a refreshing attempt to make things make more sense.

This new data has nothing much to do with page views or quarter hours. It is simpler than that, reporting just how many adults are perched on platforms, for how many days out of the week, and for how long.

The numbers spill out of reporting data for July 28-Aug 31 in 2014, compared to the same data for July 27-Aug. 30 of 2015; there’s only one significant change in data methodology.

In a nutshell, the report shows a lot of what you’d expect but with those interesting devils in the details. Younger people watch TV less, and in fact, their use digital devices almost as much as they do TV. But 18-34s use of smartphones (11 hours and 54 minutes a week) is only 53 minutes more than for people 35 to 49.

On average, 18-34s use their smartphones 5.7 days out of 7. Their gabby 35-49 siblings are there 5.9 days.



Here is the part I devote to radio: Over 90% of the Americans listen to radio each week, more than anybody does anything else. Its use is the most consistent regardless of age bracket: Just over five hours a week.  Other media studied have much wider fluctuations.

But back to video. It’s also interesting that 18-34s each week spend 6 hours and 14 minutes watching TV connected devices (even including VCRs) and adults 35-49 spend three hours and 32 minutes. That’s like lifting one night of prime time, plus the 11 o’clock news, out of the TV day, except, of course probably a good deal of the viewing on connected devices is likely time shifted TV.

The Nielsen document also says that an incredible 65% of the U.S. population engaged in social networking during the month that was studied. To put it another way, that’s 156 million adults--insert your astonishment-adjectives where you’d like. That’s up 13% from a year ago.

On tablets, Nielsen adds, about 58 million adults access social networks each week. That, Nielsen says, is about a quarter of the nation’s adults. (If less than 4,000 people wish you a happy birthday on Facebook, you are really rubbing people the wrong way.)

The report comes as Nielsen prepares a new measuring system that will include viewing on a digital devices and is due to be unveiled this year. Out in Las Vegas for the CES show, Nielsen’s president of U.S. Media, Lynda Clarizio used Yahoo’s historic streaming of an NFL game this season to explain to Financial Times how people get confused by different kinds of media measurement.

Yahoo, she said, was proud that the game attracted 15.2 million unique visitors, which seems pretty good compared to the 19 million a typical NFL game on TV draws. But, she noted, TV ratings are calculated on the average minute viewed. By that yardstick, the audience dropped to 1.6 million.

And that's part of the reason Nielsen is prepping a new yardstick.
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