TV watching on a phone and tablet to get Nielsen recognition

TV watching on a phone and tablet to get Nielsen recognition
Watching the watcher

US ratings service Nielsen has announced that it will be adding watching live TV on a mobile device to its show ratings, bringing it kicking and screaming into the 21st century.

The television monitoring service has slowly but surely been playing catch up with the modern age. Earlier in the year it announced that it would be throwing streaming services such as Netflix and Xbox into its statistical mix and now it has revealed that TV watching on a phone and tablet will also be counted.

There are a number of caveats, though. At the moment it will only be linear television that is counted. So, if you are in the US and are watching live content through apps such as the WatchABC service, then your view counts.

If you are watching through catch-up then this still won't be noted by Nielsen's system.

According to Variety, which broke the story, this new way to analyse TV viewing has been the culmination of three years' work and will help advertisers figure out where people are watching what.

App viewing

It's certainly not a perfect system, though. If a network wants to be part of the Digital Program Ratings system then their app will have to have a special code embedded that will track data for Nielsen.

So far, a pilot of the scheme, has seen ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, A&E, CW, Discovery, Univision and AOL all sign up.

Given the changing ways the world is watching television, giving advertisers the best knowledge on how shows are watched is essential. Netflix and Lovefilm have always kept their numbers a secret but there are some areas of the TV world where mobile watching is known.

In the UK, iPlayer offers up a monthly update on how many people are watching on tablets and smartphones but this is because it is a publicly funded service.

Nielsen's Digital Programs Ratings system is set to launch in 2014, but it already has a rival. ESPN has been pushing its own ratings service called Project Blueprint.

Marc Chacksfield

Marc Chacksfield is the Editor In Chief, at DC Thomson. He started out life as a movie writer for numerous (now defunct) magazines and soon found himself online - editing a gaggle of gadget sites, including TechRadar, Digital Camera World and Tom's Guide UK. At Shortlist you'll find him mostly writing about movies and tech, so no change there then.