DirecTV, TNS Measure Discovery's Audience

Discovery's Deadliest CatchAs researchers clamor for (arguably) firmer viewing metrics that come directly from set-top boxes, Discovery Communications has become the first programmer to purchase data from DirecTV holding that promise. The data--part of a service tabbed DirectView--offers insight into a range of viewing behaviors, notably how much ad-skipping DTV subscribers do.

The data emanates from the boxes of the nearly 17 million DTV homes. Research service TNS, via a deal with DTV, will interpret and distribute it.

Like a similar service offered by TiVo, DirectView provides second-by-second ratings for both live and DVR-enabled viewing. However, the DirectView data will not come from all 17 million DTV homes. Instead, TNS will evaluate what takes place in a subset of 100,000 of them, then extrapolate to apply behaviors to the full 17 million. (Residents of the 100,000 homes opt-in to participate.)

Some researchers may express dismay that the sample size is not the full 17 million, although the 100,000 is greater than the Nielsen sample. Another hitch: DTV subscribers may be more upscale than the general population, which would mean the data would not necessarily offer an accurate reflection of the population at large.

TNS said the Discovery deal calls for data to be provided for all of its networks, including those that offer HD simulcasts. Advertisers could benefit from obtaining metrics for networks such as Planet Green that are unrated by Nielsen. Discovery covers an array of reality-based shows, including "Deadliest Catch."

Wonya Lucas, Discovery's CMO, said the deal allows the company "to provide more precise and detailed viewer research ... [and] satisfy curiosity and support marketers' goals for increased value and accountability."

Discovery had a previous deal with TNS that provided second-by-second viewing data for its HD Theater channel. That research came from set-top boxes in 300,000 homes served by MSO Charter in Los Angeles--but included live-viewing only, not what occurred with DVRs.

To help TNS offer analysis of the DTV set-top data, it will employ the InfoSys analytics system.

On the agency side, Starcom has signed up for the DirectView service.

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