Skip to main content

Nielsen to Expand Viewer Tracking to Streaming TV

The Nielsen Co. has traditionally been a service that monitored what consumers were watching via cable and satellite, as well as traditional TV. But a new tradition is brewing, as the company this week stated that starting this fall, when the new TV season begins, they will begin capturing information from streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon, as well as hardware like Xbox 360, Playstation 3 (and possibly the PS4) and iPads. 

The company plans to have new hardware and software in use that taps into the almost 23,000 TV homes it collects data from. But this time it will work a little differently. Traditional TV currently encodes its shows with a signal that can be picked up by Nielsen’s technology. That way, the company can produce rather accurate statistics concerning who is watching what shows. Streaming networks are a newer technology, and as such don’t have the coding in place to send signals to Nielsen’s hardware. So for this next wave of tracking, the data will be more about how long people are watching the services, as opposed to granular tracking of individual shows. But this is a start, and a step in the right direction. 

As HBO and Netflix start to become more like each other (especially with the recent success of the binge-watching-worthy “House of Cards” on Netflix), and game consoles grow in usage as well as streaming services expanding beyond the DTV set top and onto mobile devices such as the iPad, Surface and Android tablets, it is good to see Nielsen staying in pace. The landscape of what traditional TV has been is changing, for cable, satellite and mobile, and Nielsen intends to stay aimed toward the current paths.