Nielsen to Count Cord-Cutters as TV Households


NielsenNielsen will now measure broadband-only households as TV households, meaning that cord-cutters are no longer off the grid in TV audience terms. Over the last year or so, Nielsen say they have been exploring expanding the current definition of a TV household to more accurately reflect media consumption and new technologies. The measurement company found that many people still had TVs but were using a broadband source to view content.

Nielsen’s strangely lethargic response to online viewership is more likely to be attributed to the fact that Nielsen’s biggest clients — the TV networks — have started to publicly accept their audiences are moving online and on to different devices. Few companies, if any, pay as much attention to our media consumption habits than Nielsen; so it seems unlikely that the inclusion of online audiences came about as a result of a sudden epiphany at Nielsen HQ.

More Likely a Shift in TV Industry Perceptions of Online Opportunities

A far more likely explanation is could be attributed to the fact that the TV industry is: (a) finally at a point where it’s impossible to deny the changes in user behaviour; and (b) far more positive about the opportunities for TV moving online. With 4G, the growth of smartphones and tablets, and ubiquitous public Wi-Fi, the amount of time we dedicate to viewing video content is set to grow, not shrink. And the appetite for ‘TV quality’, top tier quality content hasn’t diminished amongst audiences or advertisers. Even social networks — once regarded as a web-based threat — are starting to be perceived as potential allies when it comes to driving audiences to linear content and providing second screen opportunities.

Pat McDonough, SVP Insights and Analysis, Nielsen, said the new definition of a TV household would be changed to one where: “at least one operable TV/Monitor with the ability to deliver video via traditional means of antennae, cable STB or Satellite receiver and/or with a broadband connection.”

Online video will also be used by Nielsen for the music charts it measures in association with Billboard. The US Billboard Singles Chart will now also incorporate YouTube video views, meaning that songs with meme-friendly videos will get enjoy a boost. Harlem Shake is already reaping the rewards and has risen to the top of the US charts.

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