Nielsen Ready to Roll Out Commercial-Minute Ratings

After consulting with more than 100 clients during the past month, Nielsen Media Research said Tuesday that it will begin providing commercial-minute ratings later this year.

The ratings service will first provide clients with detailed databases they can use to create their own customized commercial ratings, and then offer a data file covering six streams of viewing information.

For clients that want to develop their own detailed, customized commercial-minute ratings, Nielsen will enhance existing products that provide subscribing clients with extremely granular data on television-viewing behavior.

Nielsen will release an updated version of its NPOWER software Jan. 29, which will allow clients to look at individual minute ratings, including commercial minutes, at any interval of digital-video-recorder playback, ranging from one-minute-delayed viewing to seven days. These data will be available back to the beginning of the first week of the January measurement interval.

Then on April 24, this same capability will be added to Nielsen’s All Minute Data File -- an electronic file that allows clients to download Nielsen’s core data directly into their own and third-party software systems. These data will be available back to the beginning of the first week of the April measurement interval.

Under either option, clients will have access to the data they need to develop individualized minute-by-minute ratings of national commercials by demographic group for all national television programs, including DVR playback at any interval up to seven days.

For clients with legacy software systems that want a more convenient, standardized ratings format, Nielsen will, beginning May 31, offer a new Average Commercial Minute electronic data file that provides an average rating for the commercial minutes in each television program. This data will be available back to the beginning of the first week of the May measurement interval.

Nielsen will make this file available for six “streams” of viewing data: live viewing; live viewing plus DVR playback on the same day; live viewing plus DVR playback in one day; live viewing plus DVR viewing in two days; live viewing plus DVR viewing in three days; and live viewing plus DVR viewing in seven days.

Nielsen said all broadcast, cable and syndicated programming will be included in the electronic data file, which, for the months of May-August, will be labeled as “evaluation” data and made available to clients at no charge.

In addition, Nielsen will provide access to its NPOWER data, at no charge, to any client that currently doesn’t have such access until the average-commercial-minute electronic-data file is released in May.

“With the growth of digital television and the increased use of DVRs, Nielsen is developing new measurement tools and metrics that provide more detailed information on what viewers are watching and when,” Nielsen general manager of national services Sara Erichson said in a prepared statement.

“The plan announced today is based on extensive consultation with clients to gain insight into what commercial-minute-ratings information will best meet the needs of the advertising and television industries,” she added.

Last fall Nielsen produced an analysis of DVR playback that showed that the vast majority of recorded programming was played back within two to three days of its original telecast.