MediaFile

Nielsen: the past, the present, but not the future of TV

This week, Nielsen announced that its viewership numbers will include the TV shows that get to the living room via Internet-connected TVs rather than through antennas or a cable/sat box. It’s a modest acknowledgement of the cord-trimming trend by which viewers are turning to non-traditional sources for “TV” such as Netflix, Amazon and Hulu.

That’s good news, as far as it goes. But only a thimble’s worth. Nielsen, television’s quantifier of record, isn’t going nearly far enough to keep up with the times. Not accounting for rapidly evolving viewing habits and methods is a greater threat to the veracity of Nielsen’s numbers than age-old criticism of its method of computing them. 

Video consumption from Internet sources may still be just a blip – it’s at 4.2 percent now, though it’s growing rapidly. But consumption on devices that are not TV sets – tablets, smartphones, computers ‑ is also happening, with perhaps an even more rapid rate of growth. A recent study by The Diffusion Group (TDG) predicts that 10 percent of TV watching will be on tablets within four years. Nielsen itself reports that about 40 percent of Americans use a tablet or smartphone as a second screen, while watching TV, at least once a day ‑ and 80 percent at least once a month.

Sales of TV sets are in decline as tablets and smartphones fly off the shelves. The living room war is being won by mobile devices, which aren’t even on Nielsen’s radar.

The crux of Nielsen’s business model is in selecting representative households — Nielsen families — from which to extrapolate viewing patterns. Nielsen families agree to have a special box attached to their TV sets that can record viewing habits. There are only 22,000 of these families, carefully chosen to create a polling sample that represents 114.2 million U.S. households.

Are kids wringing out SpongeBob?

Back in September, right before the quarter ended, Viacom trimmed  its advertising revenue outlook to high single digit growth from double digit growth. One of only a few media conglomerates to take that step–News Corp, Time Warner, and CBS were much more upbeat–the move prompted some concern among media watchers that advertisers were beginning to slash their budgets on macro-economic concerns.

But that wasn’t the case. It turns out the problem was Viacom specific. As the Sumner Redstone-controlled company disclosed during its fiscal fourth quarter results Thursday, domestic advertising revenue growth slowed in part because of a mid-September ratings plunge kids network Nickelodeon. Total domestic ad revenue across Viacom’s cable networks, which also includes MTV, VH1, and Comedy Central, for FQ4 was up 7 percent versus the third quarter’s climb of 12 percent.

What’s more is that Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman threw audience measurement company Nielsen Co under the bus on Thursday’s earnings call, saying the  ratings drop at Nickelodeon was “inexplicable.” He said Nielsen’s data did not match Viacom’s own set top box data for viewers. The company is currently in discussions with Nielsen– the dominant company that tracks TV ratings that determine ad rates — and the watchdog organization Media Ratings Council to resolve the situation.

Bing takes slight lead over Yahoo, still waaaaay behind Google

US-MICROSOFT-BING-JULYFor the first time ever in the search world, Microsoft’s Bing overtook Yahoo in August search share,  according to the latest data from Nielsen. Bing’s 13.9%  share edged out ever- so-slightly Yahoo’s 13.1%.

It should be noted that Microsoft and Yahoo have a partnership that kicked off in August that involves Bing powering Yahoo’s search. If Nielsen combined Bing-powered search it would represent a 26% share of search.

While Bing and Yahoo scrap for second place, Google blows everyone out of the water with a 65% share of all U.S. searches.

Nielsen Says – In: social networking; Out: email

INTERNET-SOCIALMEDIA/PRIVACYAnyone with a Facebook account knows how addictive social networking can be. But a new report by analytics firm Nielsen illustrates just how central social networking has become in the Average Joe’s day-to-day life.

Nearly a quarter of Americans’ online time is now spent on social networks, according to Nielsen. And all that time spent on Facebook, MySpace and Twitter is coming at the expense of traditionally popular Web activities, particularly email.

Email accounted for 8.3 percent of Americans’ online time in June, down from 11.5 percent a year earlier.

No Super Bowl blues; expect big TV ratings

colts1The U.S. economy might be weak, but the Super Bowl still scores with consumers.

The CBS broadcast of the National Football League’s championship game on Feb. 7 between the Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints should draw strong TV ratings, possibly challenging viewer levels not seen since the late 1990s.

“We’re looking at a big rating,” said Neal Pilson, former CBS Sports president and head of his own sports consulting firm. “The fact that the two conference championships got better than usual ratings usually indicates that there’s a lot of public interest.”

The NFC Championship game between New Orleans and the Minnesota Vikings drew 57.9 million viewers, ranking it as the most watched conference championship game since the 1981 contest between Dallas and San Francisco that featured “The Catch.” It was also the most heavily watched TV program, excluding Super Bowls, since the 1998 “Seinfeld” finale.

What you watched on TV last week…

First President-Elect Barack Obama sparked a run on newspapers, and now his appearance on 60 Minutes helped deliver CBS the largest weekly audience of any network this season. The news program, featuring Obama’s first post-election interview, drew more than 25 million viewers, the biggest number since January 1999.

Not surprisingly, that helped CBS win the week in total viewers and in the 18-49 year-old category.  Season-to-date, CBS is tops in total viewers, and essentially tied with ABC for the 18-49 crowd. Here are the Nielsen figures for the week ending Nov 16::

Total Viewers (’000, change from 2007-08)

CBS 12,314, +3 percent

ABC, 10,467, +1 percent

NBC, 7,742, -6 percent

Fox, 6,782, -21 percent

Adults 18-49 (ratings, change from 2007-08)

CBS, 3.3, no change

ABC, 3.1, -9 percent

NBC, 2.9, -6 percent

Fox, 2.7, -21 percent

Week’s Top shows for Adults 18-49 (network, rating)

Sunday Night Football, NBC, 7.4

60 Minutes, CBS, 6.3

Desperate Housewives, ABC, 6.2

Grey’s Anatomy, ABC, 5.7

House, Fox, 5.5

CSI, CBS, 5.1

CMA Awards, ABC, 5.0

Two And A Half Men, CBS, 4.9

Sunday Night NFL Pre-Kick, NBC, 4.6

Dancing With the Stars, ABC, 4.2

Family Guy, Fox, 4.2

How I Met Your Mother, CBS, 4.2

(Photo: Reuters)

What you watched on TV last week…

Helped by the World Series, Fox last week scored five of the top 10 shows among 18-49 year-olds. That’s the good news. The bad news is that Fox ratings were nonethless down 22 percent for the week, and are down 17 percent year-to-date, according to the latest Nielsen data.

Fox isn’t alone. Season-to-date ratings for NBC and ABC are down similar amounts. That leaves CBS on top. But even CBS is down 6 percent, so it’s dubious honor.

Total Viewers (’000, change from 2007-08)

CBS 11,351, up 2 percent

Fox, 10,875, down 21 percent

ABC 9,958, down 11 percent

NBC 6,098, down 13 percent

Adults 18-49 (rating, change from 2007-08)

Fox 3.6, down 22 percent

CBS 3.0, no change

ABC 3.0, down 19 percent

NBC 2.2, down 15 percent

Week’s Top Shows for Adults 18-49 (network, rating)

Desperate Housewives, ABC 5.8

House, Fox, 5.6

CSI, CBS 5.5

Grey’s Anatomy, ABC 5.4

Two and a Half Men, CBS 5.1

Fox World Series Game 4, Fox 5.1

The OT, Fox 5.0

Fox World Series Game 1, Fox 4.8

Fox World Series Game 4-Pre, Fox, 4.4

Survivor Gabon, CBS, 4.4

(Photo: Reuters)

What you watched on TV last week…

tvwatching.jpgIt was another solid week for CBS, which has become a regular at the top of the TV ratings race so far this season, according to the latest figures from Nielsen.

But while CBS was the most-watched network and brought in the most 18-49 year-olds, it was ABC’s soapy dramas that were the most popular individual shows. Sexy doctors and sexy housewives, pretty bankable as ratings winners.

Total Viewers (’000, change from 2007-08)

CBS 11,472, up 4 percent

NBC 7,207, down 13 percent

ABC 9,147, down 14 percent

Fox, 6,727, down 43 percent

Adults 18-49 (rating, change from 2007-08)

CBS 3.2, up 7 percent

NBC 2.7, down 13 percent

ABC 2.8, down 20 percent

Fox 2.5, down 36 percent

Week’s Top Shows for Adults 18-49 (network, rating)

Grey’s Anatomy (ABC, 5.9)

Desperate Housewives (ABC, 5.7)

Two and a Half Men (CBS 5.3)

House (Fox, 5.3)

CSI (CBS, 5.2)

Family Guy (Fox, 4.7)

Heroes (NBC, 4.3)

The Office (NBC, 4.3)

SNL: Weekend Update (NBC, 4.2)

Survivor: Gabon (CBS, 4.2)

(Photo: Reuters)

What you watched on TV last week…

It was a big week in the TV world for CBS, according to the latest Nielsen data.

Its live plus same day ratings for the week ending October 12, the third week of the new TV season, are below. As you can see, CBS won in total viewers, adults aged 18-49, and had the top show of the week in CSI.

TOTAL VIEWERS (Average ratings/Audience)
CBS 3.8/11.0 million
ABC 3.3/9.6 million
Fox 2.7/8.0 million
NBC 2.4/7.0 million

ADULTS 18-49 (Average rating/Audience)
CBS 3.2/4.2 million
ABC 3.0/3.9 million
Fox 2.7/3.6 million
NBC 2.7/3.5 million

The Hollywood Reporter, redesigned

hollywood-reporter.jpgThe Hollywood Reporter is joining the ranks of newspapers and magazines that are redesigning their print editions and Web sites, but the changes that the nearly 80-year-old publication is making will affect much more than the way it presents itself.

Monday’s official relaunch of one of the top trades covering the movie business also will feature more charts, more data and more of a business focus in its reporting, publisher Eric Mika told us in an interview late last week.

“The industry is the largest exporting product America has. It’s not a frivolous business,” Mika said. “None of the publications to date really represent that. … It reaches out to the finance community, the technology community, but it does not forget the core readership on Wilshire Blvd., New York City and London.”