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Nielsen Adding Audience Meters in 140 Markets

Furthering its effort to boost measurement across-the-board, Nielsen on Tuesday announced plans to install nearly 15,000 electronic audience meters in 140 markets where viewers still use paper diaries.

The meters will be installed in newly recruited Nielsen homes in those smaller markets, some including viewers who watch TV over the air, Nielsen said. The ratings company will continue to include data from the diaries already in use, as well as set-top box data collected from those viewers’ homes, it said.

The addition of the new metered homes will improve coverage of broadcast stations and digital subchannels in those markets that set-top box data doesn’t cover. The targeted effort won’t affect national TV ratings, Nielsen said.

“We’ve made great strides to incorporate data from set-top-boxes into our Local TV measurement, however, in that process we’ve uncovered significant challenges with the data,” Kelly Abcarian, Nielsen’s senior VP of product leadership. “To solve for these limitations, especially measuring growing audiences viewing via over-the-air broadcast, we looked at multiple solutions including online recruited panels and quick-query surveys. Ultimately, we concluded that only Nielsen’s proven TV audience meters allow us to address the challenges that come with set-top-box data.”

The NAB lauded the effort, saying it will more accurately reflect broadcast TV viewing.

“We have long believed that over-the-air TV station viewership has been undercounted by measurement companies as multicast ‘D2’ networks gain in popularity and TV antenna sales increase,” said Dennis Wharton, the organization’s executive VP of communications. “Today’s Nielsen announcement sends a positive signal about the renewed vitality of local and network broadcast television in an era of pay TV cord-cutting and cord-shaving.”