Nielsen to look at online video viewing

Online video has come of age: Ratings guru The Nielsen Co. is expanding its definition of television--and what other definition is there?--to include broadband, Microsoft's (Nasdaq: MSFT) Xbox and Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) iPads, among other online video sources.

That's the word from the Hollywood Reporter, which quoted several sources as saying that the ratings giant's decision to move beyond its longtime base of TV measurement came from a meeting of the "What Nielsen Measures Committee," a group of major TV networks, local TV stations, cable TV networks, advertising agencies and "some big brand advertisers," the story said.

The move should have been expected. Broadcast networks have embraced online video with their own websites and as part of packaged content for online video streaming services. That means that there are eyes watching programs that, for now, aren't being measured. Besides telling the networks what people like--a secondary need--these measurements would tell advertisers where those eyes are wandering.

Nielsen is expected to phase into its reporting, starting with iPads, tablets and smartphones that receive broadband via residential home networks then moving to a more comprehensive look of what's being viewed on those devices.

"The second phase is envisioned to roll out on a slower timetable," the sources told the Hollywood Reporter, but the goal will be to capture video viewing on any device at any location. The story further said Nielsen's internal goal is to measure online video viewing on the iPad by the end of 2013.

For Nielsen, the move is all about going where the audience has gone and telling its clients where that might be. The ratings monster has already taken steps to capture data on recorded viewing--including video-on-demand--and has even gone outside the home to look at viewing on college campuses.

Out-of-home measurement is not, at least from the start, part of this initiative, the story said. For that, Nielsen is apparently waiting to acquire Arbitron.

A Nielsen spokesperson declined to comment to the publication on the story.

For more:
- the Hollywood Reporter was the first to have this story

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