ABC and other networks move toward Nielsen online TV audience tracking

ABC is starting to see the bigger picture of capturing audience engagement as it pertains to online TV. Nielsen is breaking out into new areas as well with its Digital Program Ratings, a system designed to track ratings from networks such as NBC, FOX, CBS, Univision, A&E, Discovery Channel and others. ABC is now onboard with this new ratings system, and it's worth considering to see where this all goes. 

Initially the new Nielsen Digital Program Ratings will track views on the network’s desktop Web sites, and it is planning on branching out to mobile TV devices in the future. The current desktop test run will go from May to July of this year, with ABC and other networks on board for the initial launch. Nielsen’s new system will track overnight data and include stream counts, total of unique viewers, and reach by age and gender. 

Although the networks have been after Nielsen to update its methods of collecting and sorting data for a while now, there needs to be some work on both sides to make it a success. Network Web sites traditionally obtain little viewer information beyond what video they clicked play on. Consider a platform like Facebook which has extensive analytics for each user, from interests to gender to connections to family to just about anything else. Network Web sites have been adding streaming video as an afterthought almost, just to remain competitive. But much work needs to be done to track who is actually clicking on these clips, not just that a clip has been played. 

Nielsen understands this is only a pilot program, and there will surely be some kinks to be worked out. But it is promising that the major audience ratings tracking company is finally moving into the realm of desktop and (eventually) mobile TV viewers. Future audiences will be on the Web, and ABC, the other networks, and especially Nielsen, will need to be there as well.