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Footballs and Eyeballs

New data from Arbitron a suggests that a quarter to a third of NFL football viewing may be out-of-home--bars, restaurants, etc.--and thus flying under the traditional ratings radar.

According to the ratings company, a survey of Portable People Meter data from its trial in Houston shows that for the Aug. 13 preseason game between the Washington Redskins and Cincinnati Bengals, 31.1 of persons age 25-54 watched the game away from home.

That compares to an average of 13% out-of-home viewing for all types of programming, according to the company.

And, for the key male demos that all those beer and car commercials are targeted to, the out-of-home viewing was also almost double the average. For men 25-4, the percentage was 26.4% and for 18-49's, it was 26.7%. 

Nielsen's measurement is based on in-home viewing and does not include viewing in bars or hotels. Such measurement is part of the Nielsen's future, says spokesman Jack Loftus, "but not there is no reliable measurement tool for reporting that kind of viewing behavior."

Back in March, Nielsen decided not to go into business with Arbitron to deploy the Portable People Meters.

Arbitron has had operational oversight of the new system, which is being evaluated in Houston, while Nielsen had invested, by its count, "tens of millions" in the technology but had not committed to joining the venture.

Not long after, Arbitron touted the out-of-home viewing to NCAA's March Madness basketball finals, suggesting stations needed to get more bang for their board-banging bucks. According to that study, between a third and a half of viewing to semifinal and final games of the NCAA basketball tournament by panel participants in Houston was out-of-home.

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.