Changes in Local TV Measurement
By Amanda Galley
The 130+ local market DMAs (including us, Upstate & Central NY) were excited to shift from the crusty Nielsen diary system to a more accurate set top box measurement format (RPD+) in 2018. We went from quarterly measurement to monthly and could sleep better at night knowing that we’re not relying on folks to write out their TV viewing with (choke…) paper and pen. As a member of the coveted female 40+ demo, I can barely transport my daughters’ camp forms from the doctor to the camp office once a year – imagine remembering to write down the shows I watch on TV. Despite the excitement though, the rating changes in 2018 were underwhelming and we didn’t see major shifts in audience or cost efficiency. The top stations kept their top places and we moved on.
Enter Quarantine Viewing (insert fanfare here). We were home, we were bored, and it was all TV all the time. Viewing numbers blew up across the boards, broadcast TV shot up 12%, and streaming usage increased almost 20%. Broadcast shifts eventually leveled out but the increases in streaming are still on the rise because even the latest of adapters hooked up their Roku and figured out how to stream Schitt’s Creek during quarantine.
Nielsen announced another exciting upgrade to their measurement system this year which will make a marked change to our TV universe. Nielsen will now include broadband only (BBO) homes – those are the cord cutters – in their local TV measurement. Nationally, cord cutters are about 15% of the TV viewing population and this number is expected to grow quickly as technology continues to improve. Where the change in 2018 drove accuracy using set top boxes (that’s your cable or satellite box), this change now incorporates the folks who don’t have a set top box. As more viewers sample and move to streaming platforms like YouTubeTV and Hulu Live, Nielsen will now include them in our TV universe. This is important to media strategists and buyers because these viewers are receiving local and national commercials. More homes in the survey sample affects the reach which then improves placement and creates opportunities for shifts in the pricing of the buy.
We are excited to see these changes in the measurement of reach and the calculation of our local ratings. Including BBO homes in our Nielsen measurement now accounts for a more robust view of our audience and ensures accuracy in the placement of our buys. For more information on the inclusion of BBO homes, check out https://content.nielsen.com/local-tv-transformation-2021 .