Nielsen to Retire Paper Diaries in 140 Local Markets

Nielsen families in about 140 local TV markets won’t have to record their viewing habits in antiquated paper diaries beginning mid-next year, as the ratings measurement company hurtles into the 21st century and full electronic measurement.

Nielsen said that beginning in mid-2017 it will introduce full electronic measurement into its local television ratings service across all 210 designated market areas. The company will incorporate return path data from set-top boxes and other electronic measurement into local ratings, including the 140 smallest TV markets were paper diaries are used now. The company plans to fully phase out the paper diaries in early 2018.

Paper diaries have been sitting near Nielsen family television sets for more than 60 years, offering personal level insights into viewing habits and trends, which the market has transformed into billions of dollars in advertising over the years.

Related: Recalling the Fallibility of Nielsen's TV Diary

The move to full electronic service isn’t connected to the company’s Total Audience Measurement initiatives, but it allows the company to provide more consistent, stable and reliable measurement across all of its markets.

“By tapping into the strengths of return path data and electronic measurement, and combining it with Nielsen’s gold-standard panels and meters, we will be delivering a superior product to help all local clients address current challenges and better position for future trends,” said Nielsen product leadership president Megan Clarken in a statement.  “This enhancement is part of Nielsen’s commitment to invest in and transform how local TV is measured in a cross-platform world across all screens and devices.