Two weeks ago, a story in The Wall Street Journal expressed concern from TV networks over the way Nielsen estimates the number of live streaming viewers. As the number of people streaming live television increases, TV networks rely on Nielsen to accurately estimate the total live audience rating.
“As technology continues to advance and more content is streamed, it is imperative that measurement evolves,” said Cary Meyers, head of research at ESPN, in the WSJ article. “We’re confident Nielsen is making progress on a resolution in the near term.”
According to John Ourand from the Sports Business Journal, Nielsen’s resolution will be coming soon. Starting February 26th, Nielsen will change its definition of “live television” to include video delays of up to three minutes. Previously, that number was 25 seconds. If a viewer’s online stream was delayed by 25 seconds or more, they would not be counted toward the rating of that live broadcast.
“Nielsen made us aware of this problem in a client meeting in late October, and we’ve been asking them for a fix from the minute we found out about it,” said NBC Sports Group Senior VP/Research Joe Brown. “Every week that goes by is lost revenue for every broadcaster who guarantees on a live rating.”
A February 26th transition date means Nielsen will still use the 25 second threshold to differentiate a live viewer from a delayed viewer for the Super Bowl and Winter Olympics. Whether or not Nielsen can adjust their estimates for those events was not mentioned.