Arbitron Launches Out-of-Home TV Ratings, Data Prove Significant

Years after the TV industry began clamoring for ratings of out-of-home viewers it has finally gotten them, albeit from a company known for radio ratings. Arbitron Tuesday claimed a TV industry first, providing electronic measurement of out-of-home TV viewing in Houston, where it is conducting an extensive field trial of its new portable people meter ratings system. Not surprisingly, Arbitron said the data showed that out-of-home viewers were "a significant percentage of the audience" for the program it tracked: NASA's July 26th launch of the space shuttle.

According to the PPM data, 118,300 persons six or older watched the shuttle launch from out-of-home locations, accounting fro 11.3 percent of Houston's total TV audience among the 62 stations and networks that have been encoding their programs as part of Arbitron's test.

For the five local broadcast stations and four cable news networks that actually covered the shuttle launch, the out-of-home viewers accounted for 25 percent of their total audience.



While Arbitron did not release any demographic data from the out-of-home ratings, Pierre Bouvard, president, of Arbitron's PPM project implied, "We're beginning to learn that out-of-home television viewing is more than just men in bars, watching sporting events in the evening. It's also women at work in the middle of the day, a previously unreported audience for stations and their advertisers. "

Nielsen Media Research retains an option to develop a joint venture with Arbitron to market PPM data for TV and radio audience measurement. Nielsen has said it would make a go/no-go decision on that option by the end of the year. Recently, some friction has risen between the two researchers over their plans. Nielsen declined to help Arbitron recruit or promote its Houston market trial, and the two companies have expressed markedly different plans for the potential rollout of a PPM service. Nielsen has eschewed using it in the largest markets, where it has been deploying conventional people meters, while Arbitron has indicated it would like to introduce PPMs in all the largest markets.

Amid this backdrop, the radio industry, which still depends on Arbitron's paper diaries as a method for estimating its audiences, has been pushing for the development of an electronic measurement system.

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