ESPN jumps on new Nielsen TV ratings service for nonhome viewing

Nielsen announced its new data reporting service Monday, which addresses a longstanding gripe from sports programmers about a lack of visibility into how many people are watching their sports events.

ESPN is Nielsen’s first customer for its new “Out-of-Home” data reporting service, which measures viewership at places like bars and hotels on a subscription basis.

Nielsen announced the service Monday, which addresses a longstanding gripe from sports programmers about a lack of visibility into how many people are watching their sports events. Nielsen’s service will provide networks with more data about program and commercial ratings for live viewing as well as live plus seven days of time-shifted viewing, or viewing within seven days of a program’s premiere showing.

The data is captured using Nielsen’s Portable People Meter technology, a system that estimates measurements about how many people are exposed to programming. ESPN2 will also subscribe to the service.

“Way before TV was multiplatform, it was multiplace—especially for millions of sports fans,” said Ed Erhardt, president of ESPN Global Sales and Marketing. “Nielsen is now able to effectively measure this valuable audience and make the data available to the entire industry. It is a significant step forward in measuring the unmeasured to create an accurate total live audience metric.”

ESPN and other networks that subscribe to the service will receive individual day data estimates for their program and commercial audiences, delivered on a weekly basis.

Data will come from both in-home viewing through Nielsen’s national TV ratings panel and from out-of-home viewing captured by the Portable People Meter—now being used by nearly 77,000 installed panelists. This data will derive from 44 local TV markets, enabling projections about what people watch outside of the home across 65% of the TV U.S. household population.

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This service will allow ESPN and other networks to quantify the incremental lift that out-of-home viewing brings to their ratings, said Lynda Clarizio, President of U.S. Media for Nielsen in a statement.

“Consumers routinely watch television outside of their own homes, whether in a bar during a big game or in a hotel or elsewhere,” Clarizio said. “It’s imperative to capture that viewing.”

Artie Bulgrin, senior vice president of fan and media intelligence for ESPN, said in the statement that this service will afford the company with measurements for a sought-after but until now untapped audience

“This new service is a major milestone in helping the industry measure and monetize this additional viewing,” Bulgrin said.

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This new service represents the first electronic syndicated service that measures both in-home and out-of-home audiences.

Nielsen expanded its Portable People Meter technology base last year, previously used mainly as an measurement service to track local radio audiences. Nielsen has also tested Portable People Meter-enabled smartphones, which could increase the number of “panelists” using the technology and consequently improve the data.