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Nielsen to Begin Counting Web-Linked Device Viewing

by Sean P. Aune | February 22, 2013February 22, 2013 7:30 am PST

TV watching

Nielsen, the company responsible for figuring out which TV shows are viewed the most, has confirmed it will begin monitoring non-traditional viewing mediums such as gaming consoles and smart TVs.

Since 1950, Nielsen has been responsible for monitoring which TV shows are most popular in the United States. Using a sampling of 23,000 secretive homes, these “Nielsen families” are monitored any time they turn on a television and watch a program, but with the change in how people consume programming, those numbers have become unreliable. The numbers don’t include people who watch shows via devices such as their laptop, gaming console or that they stream over their smart TV Internet connection, but luckily it appears that Nielsen is going to change all of that at long last.

First reported by The Hollywood Reporter, and then later confirmed by The New York Times, the updated monitoring plan from Nielsen “will include those households who are receiving broadband Internet and putting it onto a television set.” The monitoring will also be expanded to televisions in Nielsen homes that are not connected to any form of cable or satellite and only receive transmissions via connected devices such as an Xbox 360 or Roku.

Before you think watching shows on services like Netflix and Hulu will save your favorite show, there are a few caveats to keep in mind. First off, you will still need to be a Nielsen home for your viewing to count. Secondly, they will have to be services that mirror traditionally viewing (i.e. have the same commercials), so it will be monitoring services such as those provided by the cable operators via TV Everywhere initiatives.

While this is definitely a step forward for Nielsen, it is a bit mind boggling to the tech savvy amongst us that Nielsen doesn’t count methods such as Hulu in this day and age. What about Amazon’s plans to air Under the Dome this summer four days after it airs on CBS? And with a population now of now over 300 million, should 23,000 homes be all it takes to control what is on the TV airwaves?

Nielsen should be applauded for taking this step into 21st Century viewing habits, but it has a long way to go before it can be considered truly modern.

[Watching TV photo via Bigstock]

Sean P. Aune

Sean P. Aune has been a professional technology blogger since July 2007, but his love of tech dates back to at least 1976 when his parents bought...