Don’t tell a TV exec that people aren’t watching TV anymore. They are! It’s just that not as many are sitting in front of a television set. They’re on the move, watching “Scandal” on their smartphone (thanks to ABC’s streaming app). TV execs want these viewers’ voices heard! Okay, maybe not heard but they want them counted in Nielsen TV ratings. And why shouldn’t they? Those online streams of shows have exactly the same ads in the same order as regulation TV broadcasts. As Nielsen’s SVP for global audience measurement, Eric Solomon, acknowledges, networks “are starving for a number they can publish that really represents their audience not just on TV but across all platforms.” So, Nielsen’s going to do it. But it won’t be available until next year.
What’s the hold up? Isn’t it easier than ever to track the media people consume? Doesn’t Google know where you are right now? Yes and no. According to Nielsen, 25% of US TV households have tablets. And according to a survey by research firm Frank N. Magid Associates: 18% of respondents watch full-length TV shows on tablets, up from 5% in 2011. However, Apple’s operating system has a security feature that prevents Nielsen’s tracking/metering software (it listens for audio codes in TV shows) from working on iPads, which account for 84.3% of all web traffic from tablets. Neilsen must be confident it’s found a way in. Steve Jobs’s Apple wasn’t so welcoming.