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Nielsen: Video Yet to Score with iPod Users

Last summer, Nielsen Media Research announced its Anywhere Anytime Media Measurement (A2M2) service, which aims to begin tracking media usage on cell phones, the Internet, and devices like iPods alongside its famous “People Meter” ratings of television viewership. It hoped to have preliminary data from a panel of 400 iPod users by the end of 2006…well, the numbers are in, and even though Nielsen is declining to release the complete figures and findings, the reported results are making the industry blink…and perhaps scratch its head.

Nielsen Media Research tracked the usage habits of 400 iPod owners in the U.S. from October 1 to 27, and found that while almost 16 percent of iPod users have played a video on their iPod or via iTimes, less than 1 percent of the content items played by iPod users on the device itself were videos. And among owners of video iPods, the percentage nudges up to 2.2 percent.

Of course, where music tracks might have average lengths of three to five minutes, television and movie programming are likely to range from (say) just over 20 minutes for a half-hour sitcom to perhaps 80 to 120 minutes for a movie. It stands to reason that one could play several (or dozens) of music “content items” in the span of time a user might require to view one video “content item.”

However, when measured by duration of consumption—how much time users spend on various forms of content—video still loses out, making up just 2 percent of the total time spent using iPods or Apple’s iTunes software. But having a video-capable iPod is an advantage: video iPod owners consume video 11 percent of the time.

If representative of the behavior of iPod users as a whole—and with a sample size of just 400, that might be a difficult claim—it seems iPod users are primarily interested in using the device for music and audio, and Apple’s online video offerings—introduced roughly a year ago—have yet to really catch on. Nielsen apparently plans to expand its panel to include people who don’t own iPods but who do use iTunes software.

In conjunction with its recent quarterly earnings report, Apple noted that film partner Disney has sold over 500,000 movies via iTunes in just two months. Apple has been offering short films and a wide selection of television programming for far longer, and claims to have sold more than 45 million videos overall.

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