Nielsen to triple National People Meter sample

The Nielsen Company will triple the size of its National People Meter (NPM) television ratings panel by 2011, in a move to increase the precision of its national TV ratings and provide more flexibility for measuring non-traditional TV viewing.

Nielsen's NPM panel, which now encompasses about 12,000 U.S. households and 35,000 people, will increase to 37,000 homes and 100,000 people as the company completes its previously announced introduction of Local People Meters (LPM) into 56 local U.S. markets and integrates those sample homes into the NPM.

The sample expansion begins next month when three LPM markets will be integrated into the national sample.

Larger sample sizes are increasingly important because of the continuing fragmentation of TV viewing. A larger sample also supports the more granular measurement that Nielsen’s clients have requested, as the industry moves in the direction of commercial minute ratings. It will further help Nielsen accomplish many of the objectives of its Anytime Anywhere Media Measurement (A2/M2) initiative, which seeks to measure televised video as it moves beyond the TV set in the home to the Internet, handheld devices and other platforms.

For news directors, the bottom line is simple. According to Paul Donato, chief research officer at Nielsen Media Research, “Technology changes result in measurement changes. Sometimes you can expect them to have a positive impact on the numbers, and sometimes they'll have a negative impact on the numbers.”

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