ESPN, Nielsen Make Cross-Media Call

ESPN, Inc. and The Nielsen Co. are teaming on how to gauge consumer cross-media usage, across TV, the Internet and mobile platforms.

ESPN, which counts 93 million subscribers and some 18 million unique monthly Web users, said it will work with Nielsen to develop a new model for multi-platform measurement that will enable buyers and sellers of TV advertising to understand more completely the interaction of digital devices with traditional TV viewing.

The ESPN-Nielsen initiative will have three main components: the first deployment of Nielsen’s TV/Internet convergence panel, a new integrated sample of households being assembled by Nielsen to measure TV and Internet use within the same home; research linking data from Nielsen Mobile and other measurement sources to gauge cross-media applications; and the ability for several ESPN advertiser to link in and study insights about their advertising on ESPN platforms.

The new metric system is expected to bow in April. ESPN has yet to announce any advertisers that will be involved with the collaborative service, according to an ESPN spokeswoman.

Nielsen’s convergence panel aspires to provide the first real insight into how people experience TV and Internet, including streaming media, in their daily lives. Panelists will have their TV viewing measured by Nielsen’s People Meters and their Internet usage measured by Nielsen//NetRatings’ Internet metering technology. The sample will be assembled from a combination of sources, including newly recruited homes and existing TV panelists who are leaving the National People Meter television sample. ESPN hopes the panel will provide insights into the impact TV promotions have on driving people to Internet promotions driving users to watch ESPN programs; the number of hours and dayparts when viewers and various dayparts watch or click on; and a measure for simultaneous toggling.

Also as part of the initiative, Nielsen will link its TV and Internet measurement to the ESPN Sports Poll, a syndicated tracking survey of U.S. adults and teenagers that monitors general fan profiles, viewing habits, event attendance and sports industry trends.

To measure the impact of ESPN content on mobile devices such as cell phones, Nielsen will also meld its extant TV/Internet fusion product with data from its Telephia service, which measures mobile Web and mobile video usage.

“This ESPN Nielsen initiative will forge new ground in cross-media measurement solutions, allow us to further understand user behavior and provide valuable insight for our advertisers,” said Artie Bulgrin, senior vice president, research and sales development, in a statement.

Added Jon Mandel, CEO of NielsenConnect, in a statement: “ESPN is a true multimedia company, with a mission to serve sports fans any time, anywhere and via any device. That makes it a great fit for our capabilities which provide unique insights into the fast changing habits of today’s media users I’m particularly thrilled that ESPN is interested in learning how their content drives advertisers’ business.”