On Tuesday, Nielsen announced it will begin measuring viewership data for eligible programming on Hulu’s live-TV service and YouTube TV.
Hulu and YouTube TV’s new ratings will be part of Nielsen’s Digital In TV ratings that track viewership for eligible programs through mobile and desktop devices. Nielsen will track live viewership for programming on Hulu’s live-TV service and YouTube TV as well as viewership for three days and seven days after the live airing. The digital viewing data of live, on-demand, and DVR for eligible shows will be combined with the shows’ linear TV viewership data.
A show streaming on the two online platforms is eligible to be tracked by Nielsen if the show and its commercials match what airs on broadcast and cable TV. So, do not expect to see how many people are binging The Handmaid’s Tale, since it only streams on Hulu. That also means your re-run marathons of Parks and Recreation will not be measured, as well.
Including Hulu and YouTube TV in the Nielsen ratings is a testament to how important live TV has been to both companies already. “We built YouTube TV to bring the most popular ‘must watch’ TV to today’s video streaming audiences and we’re already seeing that live TV represents the majority of time spent watching on the service,” said Heather Moosnick, Director of Content Partnerships for YouTube TV in a press release.
Nielsen has been trying to crack the code to measuring viewership for nonlinear streaming services such Netflix for nearly as long as the services have been popular. At the end of 2014, Nielsen was reportedly set to measure the viewership on Netflix by analyzing audio from each episodes being watched on desktop computers. TV studios would provide audio files for their TV shows and Nielsen’s software would track how often the show was watched within Nielsen’s panel of 40,000 U.S. homes, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Three years later, Nielsen revealed Netflix show Orange Is the New Black‘s season 4 premiere attracted 6.7 million people in the U.S. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings called Nielsen’s initiative “not very relevant” due to the fact “there’s so much viewing that happens on a mobile phone or an iPad that [Nielsen won’t] capture.” Then again, Hastings also believes broadcast TV will be dead by 2030, so he may not be the most impartial person to ask about the validity of TV ratings.
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