Will your favorite T.V. program also be a favorite with others? Are more people getting entertained by watching movies on their iPods or on their computers than they are by viewing them on their television? Soon we will find out.
There will be new ways soon to find out which television programs are the most popular outside of homes as well as inside. Nielsen Company, the research firm that rates the popularity of television programs, plan to send out agents to find out what’s being watched on television in hotels, bars, offices and Super Bowl parties. At one time, Nielsen was only able to get a count of home viewers, but there was no way of finding out what people were watching outside of their homes. For example, it was felt that the Super Bowl was the most watched event, but because it was watched by many in one area, it was difficult to get an accurate count.
The TV networks always wanted a new way to measure what audiences are watching, and which programs were popular with them. They realized that many people were watching their programs outside of their homes but had no way of measuring this.
Under a new plan, Nielsen Company will send out thousands of people around the world this fall with gadgets designed to detect what’s on TV screens wherever they are. The group will carry mobile phones equipped with software that records the sounds around them. They will be able to view daytime soaps, cable news that is watched in the office and shows playing to groups of college students. Nielsen will analyze 10-second clips and compare them to a database of recorded broadcast TV and cable programming.
This will be a very important research because the TV networks are concerned that they are losing their advertisers who support them. They are afraid that the advertisers will desert them for the internet. The TV networks and the rating companies like Nielsen are hoping to find new audiences that they weren’t aware of. By learning which programs are the most popular, the networks will know what type of advertisements people are viewing.
Once the out-of-home viewers are combined with the regular Nielsen ratings, which Nielsen said might not happen for several years, the networks should be able to charge advertisers for those who watch TV outside of their homes, or “roving viewers” as they are called.
Andy Donchin, director of national broadcast, feels that getting a survey of out of home viewers is a more accurate survey of what the majority of people are watching. The head of scheduling and research at Fox feels that sports and “American Idol” are one of the most viewed programs in the homes, but are these same programs popular outside of homes?
Nielsen is doing what they can to get a more accurate count as to what people are watching; not only what’s viewed on metered television sets but on home computers and iPods as well. It just started using global positioning system devices to track down which billboards commuters are driving past. This is all in hopes that advertisers will remain to support the TV programs.