Nielsen Adds Streaming Services Like Netflix And Xbox To Statistics, But Remains Limited

on February 21 2013 2:16 PM
Netflix
Nielsen is expanding its definition of television, but Netflix may not let Nielsen track what shows users are watching. Reuters

Nielsen, the company that monitors what programs people watch on TV, will be adding streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Instant Video and more to its statistics reports. 

The Hollywood Reporter said the company will be expanding its definition of television in an effort to capture all forms of TV viewing, including broadband, Xbox and iPads. The plan will be implemented starting September 2013, when the fall season of TV shows begins.

In a Tuesday meeting of the What Nielsen Measures Committee, made up of representatives of major TV networks, local stations and cable TV networks, the committee decided to expand the definition of what qualifies as a TV service and move Nielsen into modern times. 

Nielsen plans on adding hardware and software tools to 23,000 of the homes it samples. The measurement systems will not only track cable, satellite and over-the-air broadcasts, but also streaming services like Netflix and TV-enabled game systems like the Xbox and Playstation 3. 

IPads and other tablets will be included, but comprehensive tablet-measuring systems won't be in place until phase two. 

Nielsen's goal is to track any sort of video viewing from any source, which is said to have networks "ecstatic." For years, networks have been complaining that Nielsen keeps miscalculating its statistics by sticking to its traditional methods. With an increasing number of viewers using the Internet and paid services like Hulu and Netflix to watch their shows, Neilsen realized that it needed to keep up before it was left behind. 

The new system does have a few drawbacks, however. Nielsen will manage to track how much time viewers are watching Netflix but not what they are watching exactly. In order for that to happen, Netflix will need to encode its program signals so Nielsen's software and identify and monitor them. TV networks already do this so that Nielsen can track its shows. However, after the popularity of Netflix's first original series, "House Of Cards" (at least critically, we don't know how many viewers the show had), it might make sense for Netflix to open up its systems to allow increased transparency for its users.

While Netflix has announced "House Of Cards" is the most-watched program in the company's library, actual figures haven't been announced. With original content coming to streaming services like Netflix (like the highly anticipated season four of "Arrested Development"), users and Netflix shareholders deserve to know to what extent the show is a hit. 

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