Comcast to Test Nielsen VOD Measurement

Comcast Corp. will conduct a trial of Nielsen Entertainment’s new on-demand-reporting service, which will measure and aggregate anonymous usage data, officials said Wednesday.

As part of a new agreement, the nation’s largest cable operator and Nielsen will start their trial of measuring video-on-demand viewership later this quarter.

Nielsen Entertainment’s On Demand service is a Web-based tool that collects and reports on on-demand transactions in real time. Comcast will use the service to interpret on-demand viewing habits and analyze their impact on its Comcast On Demand service.

Comcast also has a multiyear agreement with Rentrak Corp. for VOD measurement, but that pact is nonexclusive, Comcast spokeswoman Jenni Moyer said. The MSO last summer extended its relationship with Rentrak -- an agreement in which it is using that company’s “OnDemand Essentials” measurement system to report and analyze aggregate VOD-viewership data.

Last year, Comcast subscribers watched roughly 1.4 billion on-demand programs, more than double the number in 2004. Distributors, programmers and, in particular, advertisers have been chomping at the bit to get accurate data on VOD usage.

It hasn’t been determined yet which Comcast market the Nielsen trial will take place in, nor how long the test will be, according to Moyer.

“Out trial with Nielsen Entertainment will extend our commitment to providing accurate and timely reporting of aggregate On Demand usage,” Comcast senior vice president and general manager of video products Page Thompson said in a prepared statement. “The ability to understand what programmer customers like to watch is key to the success of our ongoing efforts to offer the best viewing experience possible.”