Nielsen is signaling its seriousness about making strides in the measurement of streaming, given the increasing popularity of that way of viewing.
The dominant measurement firm said it is streamlining its streaming measurement products into a single suite designed to be more comprehensive. The new setup encompasses ad-supported and subscription-based services across content, ads and platforms. The consolidated approach comes as viewers now spend one-quarter of their total viewing time watching streaming and the traditional pay-TV bundle continues to shrink.
The move is a step toward a much bigger initiative, the launch in fall 2022 of Nielsen One, a multi-platform gauge of viewing aimed at demonstrating the company’s capabilities.
Critics of Nielsen have had a field day in 2021, with the non-profit Media Rating Council pulling its imprimatur from the company amid concerns about its tactics. The VAB and other groups within the ad business, as well as increasingly vocal network and ad agency clients, have assailed the company for what they call undercounting of viewers during the pandemic. Nielsen has defended some of its actions but also conceded it needs to improve.
The increasing flame underneath Nielsen comes as the picture of viewing grows ever more complex. Ratings have never been perfect, and Nielsen has been pilloried by industry stakeholders since the very dawn of the television medium in the middle of the 20th century. But technology races on, yet the amount of information being disseminated about viewing is on the decline. Nielsen has been measuring U.S. streaming since mid-2020, but the numbers reflect only viewing via a TV screen, which leaves out mobile, a meaningful chunk for many young-skewing shows. It also captures only four major services: Netflix, Amazon’s Prime Video, Disney+ and Hulu.
“By combining our streaming solutions under one banner, Nielsen is providing the industry with a single destination to understand streaming audiences and how they are engaging with content, allowing media buyers and sellers to make the best decisions around ad strategies,” said Deirdre Thomas, Managing Director, U.S. Audience Measurement Product Strategy. “With this comprehensive suite of streaming measurement solutions, content creators, platforms, studios and advertisers will have an unprecedented view of who is streaming, what they’re watching, which platforms consumers are gravitating to and how much time they are spending with streaming content.”
Nielsen says it has been expanding significantly, though not everyone might agree. In announcing the streamlining of metrics, it said it has added connected-TV ad inventory from Samsung and Vizio to its existing clinet roster including Roku, Amazon and Hulu. All together, the company says, it will now measure 75% of connected-TV media spending and 87% of total video digital spending across computers, mobile devices and connected-TVs.
As part of the changes, Nielsen’s Streaming Platform Ratings will now be referred to as Nielsen Streaming Platform Ratings. The tool tracks the top 17 platforms and apps, representing about 85% of the entire streaming market across AVOD and SVOD.
The Nielsen SVOD Content Ratings, which launched in 2017, will now be called the Nielsen Streaming Content Ratings. The rankings are used by seven of the top 10 TV network groups and 14 of the top media agencies, Nielsen said.
Nielsen’s Streaming Suite will also include Nielsen Digital Ad Ratings, which measures audiences for streaming ads on connected-TV devices, comparing their performance with other digital buys.