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November 16, 2006

Nielsen Plans to Release VOD Measurement for National Programming

Niesen's commercial ratings may be spinning its wheels, but the company is hoping to have some degree of success with the new VOD measurement service it will be rolling out mid-December. On Dec. 11, the company will begin measuring information from VOD viewing based on the same system it uses to measure national viewing from traditional broadcasting and cable networks.

Cynthia Brumfield with IP Democracy is a little dubious about how accurate VOD measurement will be, especially in these beginning phases. She writes, "The ratings service (which I can imagine will be beset by glitches galore given the vast numbers of on-demand choices) will be limited to on-demand content produced by national broadcast and cable networks." The distinction is made because there is no mechanism in place for Nielsen to measure offerings from individual cable companies or cable systems and is only measuring those nationally organized offerings that are easy to trace.

The comments on Lost Remote emphasize how much work needs to be done in the VOD measurement area, considering projections from Rentrak that more than 2 billion VOD programs will be viewed by the end of 2006.

These plans were presaged by an announcement back in August that Nielsen would begin measuring VOD for Insight Communications as part of its launching of the Nielsen On-Demand Reporting and Analytics service (NORA). At the time, I wrote:

Many still question the measurement abilities of the Nielsen ratings for regular television, but the company has been developing various initaitives to both improve their traditional ratings system and to also provide further measurement of new delivery forms.

In the meantime, with the devleopment of a Nielsen standard for on-demand content coming, it may help encourage advertisers and content providers alike to pour more content into the expanding platform, with not only the movies-on-demand products already established but also products like WWE 24/7, the on-demand wrestling subscription service offered on many major cable networks.

This is one of many new initiatives by Nielsen, driven largely by its June announcement of the shift to an A2/M2 measurement system that would better measure how much content people consume anytime, anywhere.

Will the numbers for VOD curtail the sour taste some people have in their mouths over this commercial ratings debate? I hope it will at least further drive innovation in the VOD market, where viewers are increasingly interested and where new and innovative business models may be developed. We'll see what difference the Nielsen measurements make in this platform in the coming months.

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