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Nielsen to Roll Out Total Audience Measurement Tool in December

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How people enjoy video programming has changed, and now—finally—measurement is catching up with those changes.

On Tuesday, AdWeek gave the industry its first look at Nielsen's Total Audience Measurement tool, which will begin rolling out in December. Total Audience Measurement is the comprehensive viewership platform that the industry has been waiting for. It will record viewing information for linear TVs, DVRs, video-on-demand, set-top boxes, game consoles, mobile devices, and computers.

Rather than counting views for the past three or seven days (as industry-standard C3 and C7 ratings metrics do), Total Audience Measurement will take a longer look. It will also include online-first video creators such as YouTube and AOL. Netflix isn't cooperating and is refusing to share ratings information, so Nielsen is taking a different approach with it: Nielsen will use audio files supplied by clients to measure Netflix playback of some shows. When a Nielsen meter picks up audio content from one of those shows, Nielsen will deduce when it's being streamed from Netflix. That will allow the system to include ratings for some Netflix programming.

In an early test, Nielsen looked on one client's broadcast of a drama from early September and broke down its views: 45 percent live, 32 percent DVR within 7 days of airing, 2 percent DVR from 8 to 35 days of airing, 7 percent VOD within 35 days, 6 percent set-top box, and 8 percent streamed to computer or mobile device. That demonstrates how some programs will see a big lift from total measurement. Not all will, however: Nielsen told AdWeek that it measured the total audience for another client and found that its extended lift was "miniscule." Some programs aren't strong online.

Nielsen will begin sharing data with some clients in December, and will roll out full use of the tool to all clients late in the first quarter of 2016.

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