The news: Late this year, Nielsen announced it will begin measuring OTT and subscription video on demand viewing as part of its new Digital Content Ratings system.
Exciting, right? True, it's not the most interesting aspect of over-the-top video. But the data that can potentially be mined from online video viewing is incredible, compared to the tools that measurement companies in the past had.
What's interesting is how long it took Nielsen to get around to adding online figures to its ratings system. Even when comparatively new measurement firms, comScore and Rentrak, were basically eating Nielsen's lunch when it came to detailed analysis of online audiences, the standard-bearer of broadcast audience measurement stood fast.
To be clear, Nielsen wasn't completely oblivious to the online video segment. It launched its VideoCensus service in 2011, which measured online video publishers using a tag system (for participants) or a passive monitoring system (for non-participants).
Nielsen began measuring online audiences in December (as well as SVOD viewing, inasmuch as it can outside of Netflix and Amazon's walled gardens), and ratings will be available sometime next year to clients including Disney-owned ESPN, Turner Broadcasting, Sony Pictures Television, Starcom Mediavest, Viacom and Univision.
Why is it significant? Acknowledgement by Nielsen that OTT is a critical viewing metric will help swing advertising dollars into online video at a faster pace. And managing data analytics will improve OTT across the board.
Getting detailed metrics on not just the size of an audience, but how they're viewing content, when, on what device, is increasingly critical to programmers, said Tom Siegman, RSG Media's SVP of innovation, strategy and client relations, in an interview with FierceOnlineVideo ahead of IBC in September.
"They're asking, which content works best through which app?" he said. "Tracing that traffic, doing the data analysis (and discovering), 'Oh, this content will really bust out on tablets as opposed to the big screen. Maybe we should just acquire tablet and mobile rights for it.'"
Helping its clients get detailed data on viewers is important if Nielsen wants to remain the top dog in a growing analytics segment.