By: Madeline Rose
With the accessibility of the Internet and the ever dissolving line between television mediums, the data collected from traditional cable watchers is on the path to becoming obsolete. People are watching TV from a collection of sources outside of broadcasts, leaving advertising companies and TV networks in the dark on that consumer base. Recognizing the changing of the times, consumer measurement giant Nielsen announced on February 21 that it will soon be expanding its definition of a ‘television household’ and tracking more broadband viewers.
By altering their definition of what constitutes a ‘television household,’ Nielsen will now examine the TV habits of consumers that hook the Internet up to televisions across the nation. Be the homes relying exclusively on Internet programming or employing multiple methods to watch their favorite TV shows, Nielsen is on the way to having more comprehensive data on what exactly they’re watching. The company is still months away from having meters in place to collect the information but what’s more significant is the step they’re taking.
The number of United States homes without any cable hook up has jumped from the long time standard of 1% to 4.2% in recent years, and is projected only to rise. Those numbers make network executives antsy as they draw attention to all the consumers going unaccounted for. The content accessed from game consoles and phones, and the number of shows and ads being seen, and by who, grows more inaccurate every day. Without a more advanced way to collect and interpret viewer information, executives and advertisers run the risk of doing the worst: losing touch with their consumers.
Nielsen’s move doesn’t address one of the biggest problems with Internet TV streaming. A number of popular sites use different advertisements, or don’t show them at all. Services like Aereo stream the exact broadcast so the information is relatively the same, but until Internet and cable encoding is harmonious, advertisers are missing out on some of the pertinent data. Networks can track television show hits somewhat better, but the advertising information is more skewed when it comes to consumption.