The LPMs are in the 10 largest DMAs now, and slated to be in 18 by 2008 as rollout climbs to 56 by 2011. The markets switching over will leave behind gauges such as set meters and handwritten diaries and provide data year-round, not just in the four "sweeps" periods.
Potentially, it could spur an interest in abolishing the stunt-laden sweeps periods that advertisers feel provide ratings that are not reflective of a network's true year-round performance.
LPMs electronically track viewing in sample homes of broadcast and cable, as well as via new platforms, such as mobile devices, DVRs and video on demand.
Nielsen said that LPMs will allow measurement in some markets of major TV events that take place outside sweeps, such as the NCAA tournament, baseball playoffs and Christmas-oriented programming.
Susan Whiting, head of Nielsen Media Research, said "converting markets to our electronic Local People Meters will significantly improve the quality of our local measurement. As a key part of this process, we are also committed to working closely with the clients and stakeholders in every market to make the transition as smooth as possible."