Nielsen to Launch VOD-Measurement Service

Nielsen Media Research will launch a service next month that will measure nationally distributed video-on-demand content, officials said Thursday.

The new Nielsen service, debuting Dec. 11, will use the same National People Meter sample the company uses to provide television ratings to national programmers.

As with Nielsen's current ratings, clients will receive household and demographic ratings for VOD content, along with other detailed audience information. By measuring VOD content in its national-ratings panel, Nielsen claimed that for the first time, its customers will be able to compare the performance of programs airing on traditional channels with the performance of those same programs on-demand.

Nielsen will be able to provide VOD reporting to clients that implement "watermarking," or audio code, technology that identifies specific on-demand titles, the company said.

Working in conjunction with clients, Nielsen developed the encoding tools to uniquely watermark VOD content so that Nielsen's newly deployed Active/Passive Meter can accurately identify on-demand viewing sessions.

Nielsen's launch of VOD measurement will permit a new level of reporting for all types of on-demand programming, including titles from the libraries of content providers and recently telecast programs shown again via VOD.

New broadcast- and cable-network programming that is played back via VOD is already included in Nielsen's time-shifted viewing ratings, but only if the programming content and advertising is the same as is in the original live telecast.

"With this launch, we continue to ‘follow the video’ wherever it is broadcast, while fulfilling a commitment we made to clients who told us last year that VOD measurement was a major priority for them,” Nielsen senior vice president Scott Brown said in a prepared statement.

“Nielsen will be working with clients to make sure they install our watermarking technology so that we can identify both their library content and their new, recently presented programs shown via VOD," he added.

Nielsen's new watermarking process involves new software that embeds content-identification information in the audio of the VOD program. The software has been successfully tested by a number of clients over the course of several months, and it is now ready for use.

Once a client installs the watermarking software, Nielsen can identify the programs it wishes to track through the VOD process, and the VOD programs viewed in sample households can be credited accordingly.