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Nielsen Ratings To Count Online TV Viewing

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the good-yet-bad dept.

Television 178

cashman73 writes "Several sources are reporting that Nielsen is finally going to start measuring online TV viewing. You would think that this is a good idea, since many people are now watching TV programs on the Internet. However, there's a catch: Nielsen's new service will only count viewings of a program with the same number of advertisements as the network TV model. So, this immediately eliminates Hulu, as well as any shows watched via the network's own websites. As a matter of fact, it would currently only include Comcast's XFinity TV service, and TV Everywhere (which, so far, appears to be the equivalent of Duke Nukem Forever for television). So either, (a) everyone will rush out to watch their online TV on Comcast XFinity, so that their viewing counts in the ratings (unlikely), or (b) Hulu and everyone else starts to put more advertisements on their shows (more likely, but would also probably mean the death of Hulu)."

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Nielsen Ratings (4, Insightful)

Reason58 (775044) | more than 4 years ago | (#30906164)

I guess Conan should have had more commercials.

true (2, Funny)

nomadic (141991) | more than 4 years ago | (#30906212)

You would think that this is a good idea

I probably would, if I cared in the slightest about the subject.

Wake me up when... (4, Insightful)

Anita Coney (648748) | more than 4 years ago | (#30906222)

...they count bittorrent views.

Re:Wake me up when... (2, Funny)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 4 years ago | (#30907446)

Trust me, viewing a .torrent file isn't very interesting.

Re:Wake me up when... (1)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#30907618)

Why would they count bittorrent views? Nielsen Ratings is information for advertisers. TV shows in bittorrent files almost always have advertisers removed. It makes no sense for Nielsen Ratings to carry those statistics.

Re:Wake me up when... (3, Interesting)

jebrew (1101907) | more than 4 years ago | (#30907712)

because if they saw the number of people viewing this way, they might (as in unicorns exist kinda might) start releasing their own high quality downloads with the ads in them...hell, I'd watch the ads just because I'm too lazy to skip past them.

Worth it? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30906224)

Why would hulu so badly want its content to count in Nielsen ratings that it would change its ad scheme?

Re:Worth it? (3, Informative)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#30906336)

Probably because Hulu depends on the content guys for their existence, and the content guys are going to be increasingly unhappy if, when the provide a show to hulu, the show's Neilsens suffer precisely because the show is popular on hulu.

Re:Worth it? (3, Insightful)

denmarkw00t (892627) | more than 4 years ago | (#30906666)

So? "OH EM GEE OUR NEILSENS DROPPED"

Seriously, just measure your rating some other way - if you can get a count of viewers from Hulu's site then why even care about Neilsen? I understand they're quite the benchmark for TV, but if you're going to come to the nets you can't just change the rules because of your ties to TV counts - Hulu and other sites already provide stats, why change their model to fit TVs?

Re:Worth it? (3, Informative)

sunderland56 (621843) | more than 4 years ago | (#30906814)

It is hard to understate the importance of Neilsen numbers in Hollywood. The very first thing the average exec does in the morning - before he's even had coffee - is to check the overnight numbers. There *is* no other barometer of success.

And, these are not computer-savvy execs - for the most part, they grew up when "computer" meant "IBM", and they still have their secretaries print out their emails to be read. So they aren't going to be implementing their own alternate ratings system.

So the fact that Neilsen is improving the ratings system - however lame these initial improvements are - is going to make things better.

Re:Worth it? (1)

jbezorg (1263978) | more than 4 years ago | (#30907358)

There *is* no other barometer of success.

Sure there is, it's usually referred to at the bottom line. Google bought YouTube for $1.65 billion in stock in 2006 and Neilsen didn't rate it then. With the momentum the current market has, I don't think it is going to change to accommodate something that, up to this point, was irrelevant.

Rather, I think Neilsen rating system is taking steps into a new market by taking in the portions that already match it's current market. In the end I think they will be the one to adapt & change.

Re:Worth it? (1)

raphael75 (1544521) | more than 4 years ago | (#30907578)

If they're unwilling to adapt and they refuse to change, then they will die off and be replaced by people who understand the Internet. Really, who cares about Neilsen ratings other than the network executives? Most of the stuff on TV is garbage anyway. Everyone is looking for alternative forms of entertainment. I know few people that actually sit and watch TV. Most people I know play computer/console games and have little interest in TV.

Re:Worth it? (2, Interesting)

theJML (911853) | more than 4 years ago | (#30907704)

You know what... In either case they're still not very good at getting ratings. They never asked me, or any one I know for that matter. It really seems like there has to be a better way to figure out if people are watching your show or not.

Re:Worth it? (1)

brian1078 (230523) | more than 4 years ago | (#30906652)

Doesn't matter what hulu changes now. It's going to be dead as soon as Comcast takes over NBC.

Re:Worth it? (1)

sabs (255763) | more than 4 years ago | (#30907718)

people watch NBC?
I had no idea.

You need to realize something about ad execs. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30906948)

You need to realize that managers these days, especially those in extremely abstract fields like advertising, spent a large chunk of their time looking at and "analyzing" various "metrics".

It's one thing when you're managing a factory, for instance. There are metrics there, too, but they are actually useful. You can track how many items you've manufactured in a given time period, how much labor was required to manufacture those items, how many are defective, the per-unit cost of each item, and so forth. Such metrics are useful and accurate because they correspond very well to reality. A manager who knows such metrics can make more educated decisions.

That's just not the case for many other managers in different fields. Like this article discusses, the metrics dealt with in advertising are much sketchier. Sometimes they exclude huge segments of reality. Other times, they're slightly better than pure nonsense.

To try and look useful, such managers go crazy with the analysis of this shitty data. They get developers to build them "dashboards" so they can watch their bullshit numbers fluctuate in real-time. Then they try to make decisions on this half-assed information, and of course make stupid decisions. But it looks like they're hard at work, and so they get the big bucks.

What is the point? (3, Insightful)

capt.Hij (318203) | more than 4 years ago | (#30906226)

Why do they insist on only measuring "full length" media. They will make themselves obsolete if they insist on measuring the way old media works. Related to that sentiment they forgot option "c," keep on ignoring the ratings and do what you like not what they want us to do.

Re:What is the point? (3, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#30906962)

Studios keep making bad business decisions based on Nielsen ratings. They cancel shows with low ratings even when the DVD sales alone are enough to make a profit on the show. Rather than make the next season straight-to-DVD, they don't make it at all.

Re:What is the point? (2, Insightful)

EzInKy (115248) | more than 4 years ago | (#30907624)


Studios keep making bad business decisions based on Nielsen ratings. They cancel shows with low ratings even when the DVD sales alone are enough to make a profit on the show. Rather than make the next season straight-to-DVD, they don't make it at all.

That's because they haven't yet learned that their current advertising methods are actually hurting viewership. I've bought quite a few DVD sets just so I don't have to suffer the bottom of the screen "popups" that seem to be the current fad nowadays. And you know, it wasn't long ago that an hour long episode provided you with 50 minutes of entertainment. Today it is more like 35.

Re:What is the point? (1)

cashman73 (855518) | more than 4 years ago | (#30906998)

So, would option "d" be: "do whatever CowboyNeal wants us to do"?

Re:What is the point? (1)

linguizic (806996) | more than 4 years ago | (#30907384)

This leaves room for some enterprising individuals to come up with their own ratings that better meet the needs of today's media.

Makes sense (5, Insightful)

loftwyr (36717) | more than 4 years ago | (#30906230)

After all, Nielsen reports ratings so that shows can sell more advertising. If the show you're watching doesn't have the same number of ads, then it's useless in terms of advertising sales as it's not apples to apples.

Nobody in advertising cares if 500,000,000 people watch a show if no ads were seen.

Re:Makes sense (4, Insightful)

kannibal_klown (531544) | more than 4 years ago | (#30906328)

After all, Nielsen reports ratings so that shows can sell more advertising. If the show you're watching doesn't have the same number of ads, then it's useless in terms of advertising sales as it's not apples to apples.

Nobody in advertising cares if 500,000,000 people watch a show if no ads were seen.

True, I can see where they're coming from. However I would imagine counting online views as a portion/percentage.

For example a typical show on Hulu has the same number of commercial breaks as the broadcast equivalent, but maybe 1/5 of the total commercials. IE, for every break there's usually a single 15-60 second commercial (averaging around 30 seconds a piece). So maybe count 5 Hulu viewings as 1 Nielson viewing.

Then you have paid online content... if an obscene number of viewers are paying iTunes for Show X then that should somehow be aggragated with ratings. After all, the network just received a chunk of change from those sales.

Re:Makes sense (1)

Taedirk (870181) | more than 4 years ago | (#30906456)

Part of me wants to ask if iTunes is going to be counted as 3/5ths of a broadcast. The other part of me knows that's very, very wrong.

Re:Makes sense (1)

ThatMegathronDude (1189203) | more than 4 years ago | (#30906524)

They're lucky we give them that 3/5 status.

Re:Makes sense (2, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#30907018)

No, iTunes will count like DVD sales. It's money made from the consumers rather than money made from the advertisers. Nielsen only tracks money made from the advertisers. Unfortunately, the studios seem obsessed by advertising revenue and don't seem to have noticed that, since DVD made recordings cheap to mass produce and the Internet made them even cheaper, it's possible to sell directly to the consumers and still make a profit.

Re:Makes sense (1)

ProfMobius (1313701) | more than 4 years ago | (#30906546)

True, I can see where they're coming from. However I would imagine counting online views as a portion/percentage.

For example a typical show on Hulu has the same number of commercial breaks as the broadcast equivalent, but maybe 1/5 of the total commercials. IE, for every break there's usually a single 15-60 second commercial (averaging around 30 seconds a piece). So maybe count 5 Hulu viewings as 1 Nielson viewing.

This make sense. If you have 5 times the number of viewer on one media with 1/5 of the advertisement, it means you are doubling the advertisement (from the original media + the new media). Since Hulu is a successful platform, they should also count it. It is not that difficult I guess, just puting a new column in their Excel thingy with a factor number. For those buying the shows online, just put the factor as a pourcentage of what you make in ads (if you are selling the show twice the price you make in ads, put a 2.0 factor). This way, they can take into account all forms of media and have a clearer picture of what going on.

Re:Makes sense (4, Insightful)

ottothecow (600101) | more than 4 years ago | (#30906708)

Ahh, but hulu advertisers do not care about the popularity of the program.

Hulu advertisers get a guaranteed number of viewers and they can try to target specific audiences (not sure how much targeting hulu does). With traditional advertising, you buy a time block and then you hope that people are going to watch it. If the football game on another channel goes into double overtime and half of your expected viewers show up...tough cookies. If only half of the viewers show up on hulu, you only run half the amount of ads.

From that standpoint, I understand why Nielsen is doing it this way...but at the same time, their ratings end up being factors in other things (like whether or not a show gets canned) and thus they should be reporting on every medium they can. How hard would it be to add a media_source: field in their database and have different advertising and viewership statistics?

At the same time, why do we need Nielsen for online content? The page counter has existed since the geocities page--We need Nielsen because they can tell us who is watching what OTA broadcast...hulu can already tell us exactly how many times something was watched and probably exactly what parts of the program they watched.

Re:Makes sense (1)

nkcaump (1016816) | more than 4 years ago | (#30907040)

Agreed. Hulu could make a heap of cash by simply broadcasting the "Hulu Rating" (they may already) Similar to the "Billboard Top 20 Albums" You could soon make Nielsen irrelevant.

Re:Makes sense (1)

Saint Gerbil (1155665) | more than 4 years ago | (#30906722)

While that seems fair I'll be willing to bet its not accurate the first advert in an ad break is more likely to be viewed than the second to last.

Fewer adverts probably means more complete views since people would be less likely to pop off for a pee while the adverts are on.

Re:Makes sense (4, Insightful)

ktappe (747125) | more than 4 years ago | (#30906384)

Nobody in advertising cares if 500,000,000 people watch a show if no ads were seen.

They do if ads can be added to the show in the future. I'd be very interested in such data if I were searching for a place to stick an ad. I'd be especially interested if I could be the only ad in the show, so my ad would stick out instead of being lost among the others. As such, I think Nielsen is being moronic here--advertisers on limited-ad broadcasts should be eager for such data and therefore so should the content producers.

Re:Makes sense (2, Insightful)

mounthood (993037) | more than 4 years ago | (#30906864)

Bittorrent should be counted for the another reason: if someone is taking the time to download it we can be very sure they are watching it, unlike the TV show that may be on without anybody paying attention. Turing that interest into revenue is still a challenge, but it's not made harder by counting torrents; it wouldn't condone or justify torrents only make the rating numbers more accurate.

Re:Makes sense (1)

nkcaump (1016816) | more than 4 years ago | (#30907120)

But there are no ads in my bittorrents. If there are ads in YOUR bittorrents, then you're going to the wrong sites. No ads = no interest from the advertisers.

Re:Makes sense (1)

Chris Pimlott (16212) | more than 4 years ago | (#30906388)

It makes sense only in a short-sighted way. It's ridiculous to assume programs will be shown online with the same exact ads to all audiences. The presentation of content must be adapted to the medium if there is any hope that it is to be successful.

Re:Makes sense (1)

SoTerrified (660807) | more than 4 years ago | (#30906402)

Nobody in advertising cares if 500,000,000 people watch a show if no ads were seen.

Yes, but advertising cares if Heroes has 1 million watching the regular broadcast... But 5 million watching on a website that servers a single ad right before the broadcast commences.

Re:Makes sense (2, Insightful)

FlyingBishop (1293238) | more than 4 years ago | (#30906422)

Bull. I straight up do not see (or hear) half of the ads that come up on television.

Most ads on Hulu, by contrast, I do see. So ignoring Hulu is ridiculous.

Re:Makes sense (1)

smartr (1035324) | more than 4 years ago | (#30906464)

I doubt they're doing anything to measure DVR use, which is now widely deployed and used to skip ads. Short of live events, I bet you will find that a large portion of tv viewers record the shows they regularly watch (which are the ones getting the ratings).

Re:Makes sense (1)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | more than 4 years ago | (#30907266)

Tivo keeps track of this information, and they sell it directly. There's no percentage for Neilsen. Tivo will even tell advertisers how many people watched vs. skipped their ads.

It's possible that Hulu et. al. want to keep their data to sell themselves, so they don't give it to Nielsen.

Re:Makes sense (1)

supremebob (574732) | more than 4 years ago | (#30907532)

If I was Nielsen, I'd want to know the viewing habits for everything that was connected to a TV. DVR, Blu-Ray, XBox, even old VHS tapes... if they're watching it, I'd want to record that information to know to provide to my clients. That way, they know where ads are being viewed and where they are not.

Re:Makes sense (5, Insightful)

nightsweat (604367) | more than 4 years ago | (#30906514)

Not really. fewer ads in a Hulu broadcast might be worth more as far as the depth of impression made. If you watch "Accidentally on Purpose" on TV, you might watch it because you like Jenna Elfman and think the show is funny. Or, you might just happen to be killing time between "How I Met Your Mother" and "The Big Bang Theory". Neilsen can't tell.

If, however, you watch Accidentally on Purpose on Hulu, it's because you want to watch Accidentally on Purpose. The ads that are targeted to that crowd are more narrowly and more properly targeted to you the Hulu viewer and shoudl be be more valuable per impression.

Re:Makes sense (2, Funny)

AP31R0N (723649) | more than 4 years ago | (#30907048)

Clever using Accidentally on Purpose to describe whether someone watched it accidentally or on purpose. i'll throw you some karma elsewhere.

Companies selling products (all companies) need to fire Nielsen. The smart folk are ditching cable and going to Hulu and the like.

Re:Makes sense (1)

PPalmgren (1009823) | more than 4 years ago | (#30907342)

Smart people don't buy everything they see on TV. Neilsen doesn't want to focus on that audience, and neither do advertisers.

Re:Makes sense (1)

businessnerd (1009815) | more than 4 years ago | (#30906526)

If there are no ads at all, and no intent on introducing ads in the future, then yes, Nielson should not count them because the whole point of the Nielsen ratings is to set advertising prices for a given slot. But Hulu does show ads, even though it is not as many as regular broadcast. So how do we set the price for those ad slots? Should the Hulu ad be cheaper or more expensive than the broadcast TV ad? This is an important question that needs to be answered. If more people are watching the online version where only a handful of commercials appear, then those slots should have a greater value.

Re:Makes sense (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 4 years ago | (#30906610)

Not as much sell more advertising but sell advertising for more.

Re:Makes sense (1)

Reason58 (775044) | more than 4 years ago | (#30906612)

That only makes sense if you consider a "commercial" to be the only form of advertisement possible. Given the magic of the internet, there are all sorts of things you can do. Mandatory ads before the show starts. Banners. In-show product placement. Close tie-ins to other web sites are easily facilitated. Etc. I think it is quite telling of the industry in general that they cannot fathom anything that hasn't been done for the last 60 years already.

Re:Makes sense (1)

Coopjust (872796) | more than 4 years ago | (#30906680)

So why not make the "classic" Nielsen rating and one for "online" or "alternate presentation"?

Re:Makes sense (1)

modestmelody (1220424) | more than 4 years ago | (#30906756)

No, it doesn't make sense.

What would make sense is adjusting a Hulu viewer so they're only worth a fraction of a traditional viewer (i.e., this viewer sees 1/3 the commericals so they're coutned as 0.33 viewers).

Re:Makes sense (1)

ShiningSomething (1097589) | more than 4 years ago | (#30906758)

Nobody in advertising cares if 500,000,000 people watch a show if no ads were seen.

You only care about how many people will watch *your* commercial, not how many commercials those people have seen already. So why would they count for less?

Re:Makes sense (3, Insightful)

Rich0 (548339) | more than 4 years ago | (#30906928)

I think it depends on what you're using the metrics for. I'd argue that they should collect everything, and then categorize it appropriately.

For example, suppose Hulu announces that they'll take one high-cost ad per show. Suddenly advertisers will want to know what their market share is and all that.

On the other hand, when networks decide what shows to cancel - they don't care about how many people watch the show on mediums other than their own, regardless of whether they have ads or not.

I suspect that the reason that Neilsen is doing what it is doing is that it is because it is what their customers are looking for. When Hulu pitches their online service to an ad agency they don't need Neilsen to tell them how many people are watching their shows - they already collect that stuff on their own.

Re:Makes sense (2, Informative)

coolsnowmen (695297) | more than 4 years ago | (#30907212)

When Hulu pitches their online service to an ad agency they don't need Neilsen to tell them how many people are watching their shows - they already collect that stuff on their own.

Insightful

Said another way, why would Neilsen spend money to estimate the number of viewers of hulu when hulu already knows exactly.

Re:Makes sense (2, Insightful)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | more than 4 years ago | (#30907184)

Nobody in advertising cares if 500,000,000 people watch a show if no ads were seen.

Wrong. They care because that's where the next opportunities to sell ads are.

I don't understand Neilsen's plan. How will advertisers know where their ads *should* go, if they don't have all the numbers.

Re:Makes sense (1)

nine-times (778537) | more than 4 years ago | (#30907202)

After all, Nielsen reports ratings so that shows can sell more advertising.

Yeah, but there's a problem in that Nielsen ratings get treated like the end-all and be-all measurement of a show's popularity and profitability. It's the same problem with a lot of standardized tests-- they evaluate for one specific set of things, which is fine, but then they get applied much more broadly than is applicable.

So if you're an advertiser who wants to place an ad on TV, then web views are fairly irrelevant. However, if your an advertiser who wants to place an ad on Hulu, then these Nielsen ratings are fairly irrelevant. If you're a network executive trying to evaluate the long-term profitability for a given show, then these Nielsen ratings are, at best, an incomplete picture. You have to look at possible syndication deals, DVD sales, iTunes sales, Netflix licensing, Hulu views, merchandising, and probably some other stuff.

Re:Makes sense (1)

flyneye (84093) | more than 4 years ago | (#30907240)

I think the inverse to this problem is: as a viewer I have no motivation to select shows with advertisements, let alone more advertisements. In fact, I would rather watch content without any ads or at least non intrusive ads. When internet ads are increased for the benefit of Nielson figures, I will seek content elsewhere. The fact that a show is on a major network holds no weight with me. The ads increase, I'm outa here. The time to change what constitutes ads is now at hand. In show placement and banner ads are best bet to reach me the customer. Quality of content doesn't necessarily mean hollywood budget or glitter. This is probably more about the death of Nielson than Hulu. It's a dinosaur thing, adapt or die. Think outside the box or be buried in it. I am the Consumer and I am always right.

Re:Makes sense (4, Insightful)

jayme0227 (1558821) | more than 4 years ago | (#30907252)

Actually, many television shows are moving towards product placement instead of traditional advertising. Most companies understand that the normal TV model is a thing of the past, considering that many people have DVRs and now stream TV online.

If you have ever seen the show "Chuck" on NBC, you would see quite a bit of this. For one, part of the show often takes place in an electronics retail store which allows considerable ads to be placed around the store in the form of cardboard cutouts and product displays. Video games are often topics for conversation, including major promotions from Call of Duty and Madden NFL 10 being incorporated (extremely cleverly, I might add) into the storyline. In addition to video games and cars (which have been doing product placement for years), Subway has stated that their product placement with Chuck was one of their most successful ad partnerships ever.

Now, as far as I'm concerned, it doesn't matter whether Nielsen includes steaming content in their ratings. Any network that streams its own shows should have access to their data without a problem, and if Hulu doesn't already provide this data back to the networks, I doubt it would make much for them to do so. Any ad exec that still bases his decisions solely on Nielsen ratings at this point doesn't deserve his job.

PS. Watch Chuck. It's a fantastically done spy comedy that always finds its way to cleverly tell a story, even if its premise is a bit old. (Unwitting everyman accidentally gains "superpowers" and must learn to become a hero.)

Why do you say this? (4, Interesting)

IANAAC (692242) | more than 4 years ago | (#30906242)

(b) Hulu and everyone else starts to put more advertisements on their shows (more likely, but would also pro

For those of us with no cable and using only digital OTA, Hulu (and other online sites) replace a DVR. And I think we'd be willing to sit through commercials.

Call me cheap, but I would, at least.

Re:Why do you say this? (2, Interesting)

RCGodward (1235102) | more than 4 years ago | (#30906314)

I wonder about this. I don't watch Hulu because it has fewer commercials or because I don't have cable. I watch Hulu because I miss a show and need to catch up, or I want to show someone the return of the Masturbating Bear. Every time Hulu thinks about adding a few more commercials I hear doom and gloom about the death of the site, but I really don't care all that much. I can't imagine I'm alone.

Re:Why do you say this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30906400)

I do sit through the commercials, but if they are going to be putting the same number of commercials on hulu as OTA, then they better let me watch it on my couch instead of in my computer chair.

This means not cutting off Boxee et al.

Re:Why do you say this? (1)

IANAAC (692242) | more than 4 years ago | (#30906470)

then they better let me watch it on my couch instead of in my computer chair.

This is exactly what I do, but even if they cut out Boxee, I could still comfortably watch through my TV using their own app (Hulu Desktop).

Re:Why do you say this? (1)

ChipMonk (711367) | more than 4 years ago | (#30906598)

We're not alone in that. I don't even have decent digital OTA. When I visit my parents, I watch House and reruns of Firefly. The former is the only show in current lineups that I'd watch; it isn't worth it to me, to buy a telly for one show. The latter isn't available on broadcast OR cable anymore.

Re:Why do you say this? (1)

tonycheese (921278) | more than 4 years ago | (#30906696)

For some people, sure, but they could potentially lose a lot of viewers as well. Hulu currently hosts a surprisingly huge amount of anime. This, however, makes sense, since Japanese animation studios tend not to be so uptight about copyright issues and so there are at least 10 streaming versions of every major anime in existence on a site somewhere... Hulu offers a stable, consistently high-quality video in return for 1 minute or two of commercials per episode, so the company can make advertising money out of a demographic that does not usually see commercials. If the amount of commercials goes up, I'd imagine those viewers would just go back to the no-ads versions that are easily found.

Re:Why do you say this? (2, Insightful)

Rutefoot (1338385) | more than 4 years ago | (#30907122)

Here in Canada we don't even get Hulu. For me, I would not care in the slightest if online shows contained the same number of advertisements as broadcast TV if it means we were actually allowed to watch it. I would love the opportunity to be able to watch a streaming show without having to deal with the unreliability and sketchiness of less than official streaming video sites.

One other thing that I don't think was mentioned is the ability for online sites to very easily offer advertisements targetted at people depending on where they live. Big networks don't get that luxury. I mean, take TBS for example which often contains ads for local Atlanta businesses. Those ads are valueless for 90%+ of viewers. An online site could potentially sell the same ad space many times over, one directed at Atlanta residents, one to west coasters, one to Canadians, etc. They might have to charge slightly less just on principle, even if it has close to zero effect on the ad's reach, but sell that ad space 5 times and you could make significantly more profits.

Re:Why do you say this? (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#30907144)

I wouldn't. I don't have any broadcast TV anymore, and I've found that I watch more shows now than I did before. I only watch things that are streamed on iPlayer (no ads), rented on DVD (no ads), or streamed from the company I rent DVDs from (also no ads). I'm quite willing to pay for the content, but I'm not willing to watch ads. I strongly suspect that the amount that I pay per show is more than the amount advertisers pays per viewer, but the studios still remain fixated on the idea that a show is only profitable if it makes a profit from advertising. If it can't make a profit from advertising on the original network but the DVD and syndication sales make money then they cancel it.

The Neilsen dinosaur finally evolves! (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 4 years ago | (#30906250)

Into a trilobite, unfortunately.

It's inevitable really, since Neilsen's customers are advertising execs. Neilsen don't want to tell them that fewer and fewer people are seeing their ads, and the advertising execs definitely don't want that news getting out - that would be a strictly career limiting move.

Re:The Neilsen dinosaur finally evolves! (1)

Actually, I do RTFA (1058596) | more than 4 years ago | (#30906398)

It's inevitable really, since Neilsen's customers are advertising execs. Neilsen don't want to tell them that fewer and fewer people are seeing their ads

You really think you are seeing fewer ads? Than the people watching on television, sure. But as DVRs and Hulu eliminate seperate ads, product placements rise. And astroturfing. And sending hot girls into bars to order specific liquors.

I would rather their limited advertising budget was spent on obvious ads, and would be willing to endure more explicit ads on Hulu if that was the case.

Re:The Neilsen dinosaur finally evolves! (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 4 years ago | (#30906770)

OK, you watch the obvious ads, I'll go and hang out in bars where hot girls are being paid to get drunk.

Bad analogy (1)

mister_playboy (1474163) | more than 4 years ago | (#30906570)

Trilobites existed way before dinosaurs, not after.

Trilobite [wikipedia.org]

Re:Bad analogy (1)

Daniel_Staal (609844) | more than 4 years ago | (#30906650)

That may have been the point...

You NEED to track all viewings and here's why... (1)

SoTerrified (660807) | more than 4 years ago | (#30906334)

Because then Nielson could put together a ratings list that shows ratings based on the amount of advertising. I won't lie, like most people one of the reasons I prefer watching TV through alternate means is to avoid the advertising. Yet I don't require zero advertising. There is a level of advertising that's more acceptable.

With this information, networks could find out how LESS advertising could generate more views. As a result, they could offer scaled advertising rates to advertisers based on the number of views. Which is exactly what the Nielson ratings are supposed to be doing now, except they totally ignore the big black hole of online content. This change, only measuring apples to apples comparisons and completely ignoring the oranges, just makes that big black hole slightly smaller. It doesn't serve the advertisers, it doesn't serve the viewers and it doesn't accept that there are new entertainment models.

Way to go, Nielsons!

Nielsen Ratings Will Become Less Important (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30906348)

Online viewers will not put up with the same quantity of ads as regular television (certainly not this viewer.) Hulu is just barely tolerable at 30 second spots. They've done the testing and research, they know what people will put up with. Nielsen Ratings are used to sell ad space, the better the rating, the more can be charged. If "Nielsen" won't rate online TV outlets, the internet TV "Industry" will come up with their own way of justifying ad sales. Point number one, fewer and shorter ads increase the probability that the viewers will actually watch them. Point number two, each viewer must request the view, making it much easier to accurately count and tie to demographics. Who needs Nielsen?

Why? (1)

GreyyGuy (91753) | more than 4 years ago | (#30906350)

Why should Hulu add more commercials? If they are viable as it is, wht do they care for Neilson? Neilson is there to help sell ads by giving a value to TV shows. If Hulu doesn't need that many ads why should they annoy their viewers to help an unrelated service?

Re:Why? (1)

vxice (1690200) | more than 4 years ago | (#30906584)

because content providers who want the high ratings and people viewing it in places that at best will not increase their ratings and possibly even draw people from places that do increase their ratings will demand hulu change its ways so that it does count in ratings or pull their content.

TV Everywhere NOT equivalent of DukeNukem Forever (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30906394)

Duke Nukem actually got released which puts them ahead of TV Everywhere.

Re:TV Everywhere NOT equivalent of DukeNukem Forev (1)

MetalliQaZ (539913) | more than 4 years ago | (#30906658)

FAIL.

Or No One Cares (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30906404)

Or C, Hulu and other online outlets don't give a crap about Nielsen because Nielsen has no effect upon them, only upon the shows they carry. Networks care about nielsen because there is a cost involved in producing content, Hulu doesn't have that cost, Hulu has the cost of acquiring content which is paid for by ads. There is absolutely no benefit in them adding ads to their content just so Nielsen will use them in the rankings. So...there you go.

Why not count per-ad-minute? (1)

ZeroSumHappiness (1710320) | more than 4 years ago | (#30906436)

If they insist on it only mattering how much advertising you watch then shouldn't they be rating it as show per advertisement minute? It would even allow the studios to do interesting analysis like, is it worth it to have a 30-minute show that's only got 3 minutes of ads rather than the standard 8 since it increases viewership to unforeseen heights? (Not likely, actually, but still an interesting question.) Also, shouldn't they care about per ad-minute per ad as well? I mean, I figure there's some reinforcement value to watching the same advertisement twice but the same commercial three times in a row (it has happened when I still watched normal broadcast TV) when I've seen it 20 times that week probably doesn't help that much. Also, shouldn't the execs care that advertising on Hulu can be far more directed? For example, if I actually rate that I really liked the trailer for Movie X and actually go watch Movie X after seeing the trailer on Hulu it'd be cool if Hulu gave me more trailers for movies like Movie X (Netflix-style like here). And if I'm repeatedly marking down Product Y since it's a food in a category I don't eat can I please get not only no more adverts for Product Y but also no more product Y-2? I mean, we give them the perfect medium for directing advertising directly at as to maximize its effect and they just sneer at it. When will they learn?

Re:Why not count per-ad-minute? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30906906)

Nielsen's "currency" data (ie: the numbers that Networks and Ad Agencies use to negotiate with)are already based on just the commercial minutes in a program.

And this is a bad thing? (1)

grapeape (137008) | more than 4 years ago | (#30906440)

Like it or not "free" television shows are advertising supported. Having a real way to measure how many people are watching online will finally give legitimacy to online advertising in streaming video and will help ad rates significantly. I know everyone likes free and hates advertising but in a medium like that there is no other way around it beyond pay per view or a wealthy benefactor who doesn't mind the idea of throwing away cash to entertain the masses.

There will be benefits to consumers as well, more will likely make their shows available online and time shifting not counting towards ratings will be less of an issue. This may actually help "save" shows in the future that had wide followings online and through tivo's but didn't reflect those audiences in ratings (Firefly or Dollhouse anyone?). It may also lead to a greater willingness to provide web only content.

I'm going to miss TV (1)

wcrowe (94389) | more than 4 years ago | (#30906452)

I'm going to miss TV, at least a little bit. I calculated that if I connect my macMini to my TV, I can do practically everything I'm doing now with cable and Tivo -- but at $50 less per month.

There are a few drawbacks, of course. Live sporting events and knowing the exact location of the nearest tornado, to name a couple. But I almost never watch sports, and the radio can suffice when it comes to severe weather. Ultimately, these things just aren't worth the $100+ per month that I'm paying for my "bundled" cable package.

Flopping down on the couch and turning on the TV to "see what's on" are going to become a thing of the past at my house.

If Nielson doesn't make some changes to their rating system, they'll become as redundant as TV.

Re:I'm going to miss TV (1)

hoggoth (414195) | more than 4 years ago | (#30906840)

> Flopping down on the couch and turning on the TV to "see what's on" are going to become a thing of the past at my house.

If if if if and if.

What are you waiting for? We did it two years ago and we've never been happier. My family spends a lot more time doing things together now, we play board games, we read a lot, we cook more instead of ordering in, we go outside and do things. You have no idea how much of your time the TV sucks up.

You probably feel like you don't have enough time to do all the thing you'd like to do. Most people do. If I offered you a magical gift of four extra hours a day, what would you give up for it? Would you give up watching whatever crap happened to be on TV at any random moment? Sounds like an easy choice, right? It's easy and all you have to do is break the habit.

We still watch DVDs, and play on the computer. We just don't watch "whatever happens to be on" anymore.

Re:I'm going to miss TV (1)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 4 years ago | (#30906842)

Live sporting events and knowing the exact location of the nearest tornado, to name a couple.

Couldn't that be covered with a $10 antenna and, if necissary, a $30 converter box?

Re:I'm going to miss TV (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#30907644)

Live sporting events and knowing the exact location of the nearest tornado

You can see the live sporting events at your local bar, and for tornados there's www.weather.com (the weather channel web site). It works well on a phone as well as a computer, even the radar maps.

Why would Hulu need Nielsen Ratings? (3, Insightful)

Van Cutter Romney (973766) | more than 4 years ago | (#30906472)

Unlike traditional TV where you need ratings like Nielsen, to get advertisers, Hulu could just show the traffic that comes to their site.

Re:Why would Hulu need Nielsen Ratings? (1)

Beerdood (1451859) | more than 4 years ago | (#30907510)

Absolutely right. Additionally, the traffic data from Hulu is more accurate than any of the Nielsen data they could collect. If a show is being played on Hulu, you're most likely watching it.

Nielsen relies on two different data collection methods - user logs and set meters (a recording device on your television).
The main problem with the user input is the accuracy of the logs. You may not be able to remember everything you watched last week, or to even fill in the log every time you're watching TV. It would also require honesty on the part of the viewers - did you really watch the real housewives of orange county last week, fashion TV or that 3 am male enhancement infomercial? Of course not.
The other method (of directly recording the channels & times the TV are on) isn't accurate either, since it doesn't account for time people aren't actually watching the TV - like leaving the room and forgetting to turn it off, or falling asleep in front of it. What if you're flipping between two shows? Does that count as a "view"?

If you're watching a show on hulu, then you've made an effort to find that specific show. That data is much more valuable to advertisers

Evil overlords (1)

hubdawg (1148477) | more than 4 years ago | (#30906506)

of mass media only profit from perceived returns. As long as the masses pay for their TV through satellite and cable services they remain content. As more and more move towards non traditional mediums they will devise defensive situations to corral the media hungry into their pens. It is basically a cattle herding effect. The more viewers they can prove, the more they demand for their ad space. My family and I have become rebels in that respect, as we have not had a paid television service in over 5 years. Unless you count online fees for internet access. All our television entertainment comes from Netflix, Hulu, and DVD rentals and purchases. When I share this with people they are stunned and aghast that we can even survive without paid TV in our homes. The day we cancelled our satellite, the operator called us liars when they asked what service we would be switching to. As our answer was that we would not have cable or satellite. It is beyond the average persons comprehension that you can survive with out paid TV. Try it you will like it was my answer. The added time and freedom of not being saddled with monthly payments for television is a gift that will repay you many times over. Buck the system dump the cable and satellite.

Re:Evil overlords (1)

Mashhaster (1396287) | more than 4 years ago | (#30907396)

I did the same thing. Four years and counting. Screw big media, let the dinosaurs evolve or die.

You can get 99% of what you want online anyway.

Re:Evil overlords (1)

hubdawg (1148477) | more than 4 years ago | (#30907464)

if we can convince even 1/100th of a percent of all the people who read this to cancel cable or satellite, it will have been worth it.

the real problem (1)

vxice (1690200) | more than 4 years ago | (#30906550)

The real problem here is that the cost to distribute media are dropping very fast. Now consumers say that should mean the price they pay should also decrease. This ignores an important point, in economics price affects directly only demand and supply levels. Costs incurred by the producer only affects the amount he is willing to supply and the number of overall suppliers. Essentially the execs are looking at their lowering cost to distribute and asking "so what? the value to you has not changed has it?" Really due to the lower costs to distribute there should be more content providers increasing the content supply which is happening just most of it is crap. The cost to produce good media, if you want to call it that more or less crap with good special effects and the rare gem, is still very high making it hard to break into a market.

Come up with a new system (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30906554)

So why doesn't someone (like me) come up with the "Smith Ratings" system, which is designed to gauge viewership on internet television? It could easily be weighted based on the advertisement::show time.

Option (c) (1)

IorDMUX (870522) | more than 4 years ago | (#30906682)

So either, (a) everyone will rush out to watch their online TV on Comcast XFinity, so that their viewing counts in the ratings (unlikely), or (b) Hulu and everyone else starts to put more advertisements on their shows (more likely, but would also probably mean the death of Hulu)."

Or (c), Nielsen Ratings begin to lose their importance, clout, and influence over the next few years.

Ratings are based on what viewers report (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30906784)

Fortunately ratings are based on what viewers report. I received a "kit" from Nielson to record viewing. I use a DVR that pulls out commercials, but I counted the programs I watched just the same. I'm guessing that those that are chosen for the viewer info kits may also be counting shows watched without commercials. While Nielson's goal is to have advertisers believe their adds will be viewed, it's not possible for them to strictly enforce what viewers report on the survey. Some viewers may choose to report Hulu or other sources for video entertainment they record.

Re:Ratings are based on what viewers report (1)

jayme0227 (1558821) | more than 4 years ago | (#30907306)

Nielsen also has their people meter [wikipedia.org] that measures what you watch electronically. These don't use DVR data, but are generally more accurate than self reporting, although I'm sure that if you tried, you could fool them pretty easily.

Hulu keeps a count, right? so they pass that back (1)

swschrad (312009) | more than 4 years ago | (#30906938)

the content providers add another line to their pitch sheets... "While 'Ten Million Gorillas in a Bus' had a Nielsen of 10.2, there were also 4,320,000 Hulu viewings." whether any ads ever show up on Hulu or not, they can still reinforce the show's pull.

Worthless Media (3, Interesting)

StormReaver (59959) | more than 4 years ago | (#30906972)

My most recent cable TV outage started me thinking about televised entertainment in general. I still remember when cable TV was highly desirable because it didn't have any commercials. Then commercials made occasional appearances in some shows, obviously a trial balloon to measure customer opposition. Then commercials quickly became as prevalent on cable as they were on broadcast TV.

I have been using MythTV for a couple years, and it's been fantastic. I haven't had to sit through a full commercial in that time, and I'd been loving cable TV again. While I fast-forward through commercials (automatic commercial skip is too unreliable), I sometimes saw something that grabbed my attention. In those cases, I usually watched at least a part of the commercial, and discovered a new product. Most often, though, I saved myself centuries (qualitatively speaking) of agony by not having to watch them.

When I got engaged, she and I had better things to do with our time than watch TV. Three weeks into our first month together, I realized that I hadn't missed TV at all, but was still paying $60/month for something I hardly used. I called Mediacom (the local cable company), and canceled the "service" last week.

At the same time, I subscribed to Netflix. For a fraction of the cost of cable, I have a vast choice of movies, a much smaller monthly bill, more reliable service, and a much happier experience overall experience.

When I first tried Hulu, it was an okay service. I had to sit through a couple 7-10 second commercials every half hour, but that wasn't too intolerable. Then Hulu started lengthening the commercials to 30 seconds. It was still not terribly intolerable, because there was usually only one of them every half hour. Then I started seeing two appear every half hour, and it became clear to me which direction Hulu was headed, so I stopped watching Hulu.

I'm at a point now where I watch TV only during tornadic weather, and only to watch the news coverage to track the storms. My fiancé and I watch one movie a night in bed before going to sleep, and that's it. We have freed ourselves from television, and we have advertisers' greed to thank for that. We don't miss TV one bit.

So, Nielson won't count online TV viewing unless its riddled with commercials. If Hulu ever starts to be counted, you can be sure that it has become a worthless service. As far as I'm concerned, it has already become a worthless service.

We'll see (2, Insightful)

markdowling (448297) | more than 4 years ago | (#30907716)

"We have freed ourselves from television, and we have advertisers' greed to thank for that. We don't miss TV one bit"

When it comes to fiancehood, past performance is not an indicator of future returns.

Option C (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30907142)

Eventually, Neilsen will need to revamp their system, as online advertisements (seen around a video showing, rather than pauses during a show) will hopefully be a preferred method of advertising. I see the push-back as people chose internet sources, or DVR-style content skipping reduces the effectiveness of a Neilsen rating. Maybe even more Truman-style product placement in shows will eventually take over?

ratings (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30907222)

"(a) everyone will rush out to watch their online TV on Comcast XFinity, so that their viewing counts in the ratings (unlikely)"

"Everyone" does not count in ratings. Only the Neilson families chosen for the rating process affect ratings.
They have no idea what I watch, or what you watch when it comes to whats viewed over the air. However, as another commentor
stated, they can know how many people are watching what shows on purpose when it comes to online viewing.

coward (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30907228)

just post the ads at the end of the show. It will work like regular tv since I usually leave during commercials and browse other channels. would work great on hulu to just have all the ads after the credits.

We need this (1)

nilbog (732352) | more than 4 years ago | (#30907492)

We are in desperate need of a refresh in how shows are rated. Networks rely on these statistics because they are the only thing they have to show to advertisers. With more TV viewing going online, a key demographic is not being represented fairly and as a result all of my favorite shows keep getting canceled. Arrested development, Firefly, etc. I think if demographics that view this content heavily online were counted, they would not have been so easy to cancel these shows.

This move is at least a step in the right direction. The catch makes sense, though, since the whole point of the ratings is to determine how much the ad space is worth.

Botnets (1)

root69 (202658) | more than 4 years ago | (#30907574)

This is great news for botnet operators. They will soon have a new customer with deep pockets that need help bumping up their "viewership".

OK not sure i agree (1)

zerocool6900 (197286) | more than 4 years ago | (#30907736)

Not sure I agree with the statement that this rules out the networks online viewing.

I regularly watch Fox.com and CBS.com because I'm not at home when Bones and NCIS come on...and I still get annoyed at all the commercials. The have a commercial every 5 to 10 minutes just like when watching on network tv.

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