Nielsen's Big Data + Panel Preview Shows 4-5% Increase In Viewing

A preview of the highly anticipated revamp of Nielsen's national TV measurement Big Data + panel service -- a combination of Nielsen's existing panel data plus data from streamers/pay TV distributors -- shows a slight overall 4% to 5% increase in TV-video usage.

“[There are] marginal increases with Big Data measurement over panel measurement,” said Pete Doe, chief research officer of Nielsen, in a press briefing on Tuesday.

He added that on a program level, most viewing is slightly higher or flat.

For example, Doe said, viewing for total persons age 2 years and up comes in at a 10.9 PUT (Persons Using TV) level using its Big Data measurement, versus 10.4 PUT from its Nielsen panel.

In particular, the percentage differences are higher with Big Data for younger adults 18-34 -- with a 3.4 PUT Data, versus 3.1 from the Nielsen panel.



For 35-49 viewers, there is a 7.7 PUT (Big Data) for 18-34 viewers versus 7.4 PUT from the Nielsen panel. 

The Big Data piece of the pie will cover more than 45 million households and more than 75 million devices.

Data integrations with Nielsen come from Comcast Corp., Roku, Vizio, Dish Network, and DirectTV.

Deirdre Thomas, Chief Product Officer for Nielsen, says Big Data and panel results bring scale and stability in the analysis of consumer behavior. She anticipates that Nielsen's Big Data + panel measure will get accreditation from the Media Rating Council by September.

Nielsen's panel measurement remains important, she says. The longstanding Nielsen panel is a “truth set” -- which in recent years has averaged 40,000 U.S. homes.

A key factor in Nielsen overall panel results is its representation of the U.S. "people" -- not homes, or households. 

“You need a truth set to make sense of the Big Data,” Thomas says. At the same time, “given the media fragmentation, you really need Big Data to understand consumer behavior across all the different media types, platforms and devices that we all roam around on.”

Another major advantage of Big Data is the virtual elimination of “zero cells” -- which can come from traditional Nielsen panelists not inputting data and preferences correctly -- or at all -- into Nielsen's panel system.

Thomas explains that the Big Data and panel combination is important because Big Data does not provide the whole picture. “There are big gaps in how people actually consume television,” she says.  This includes Big Data not capturing over the air or out-of-home viewing.

In addition, while Big Data captures that a set-top box may be on, it may not account that a TV set might not be turned on, which can lead to measurement issues. Nielsen's panel helps to reveal what is happening in the home.

Thomas says the key with this new measurement is that “we are not changing the metric.”  This means keeping its average minute commercial rating system -- C3/C7 -- which reveals live viewership from three or seven days of time-shifted viewing.

Since the end of last year, however, as part of the effort around using Big Data as part of its new measurement system, Nielsen has been providing clients with ‘impact data” to determine how the new measurement performs. 

Nielsen says the panel availability of data will continue to be available the next day with the 'Big Data’ component coming a day afterwards.

The measurement firm says it is open to working with all streaming platforms when it comes to incorporating data into its system.

Nielsen has already done this with Amazon Prime Video this past season when it came to viewership of its “Thursday Night Football.”

This story has been updated.

2 comments about "Nielsen's Big Data + Panel Preview Shows 4-5% Increase In Viewing".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, April 3, 2024 at 8:10 a.m.

    Wayne, the comparisons referred to between the new and the old Nielsen in your report seem to reference only linear TV, not all of TV, including streaming. It will be interesting to see what the comparisons look like for Streaming and total TV as well as the linear component.

  2. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, April 3, 2024 at 3:22 p.m.

    Adding to my previous comment, all that I see in this report is that Nielsen's "big data" households, when melded together, are detecting slightly more set usage than its people meter panel. However,  that does not necessarily mean  that their residents are "watching" slightly more linear TV content and/or commercials as the system---like the previous one---has no way to determine if anyone is present whan a set is on or, if present, if they are "watching"---meaning looking at the screen. The only way to get at time spent is by measuring attentiveness via some sort of observational method---which is not part of the plan. Since advertisers don't seem to care whether their commercials are actually seen, this is good news for TV time sellers. But it remains to be seen how the various players divide all of those TV "impressions" and how the streaming numbers play out---those are the key questions.

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