February 7, 2023

Media Decoder: Nielsen Adjusts Its Ratings to Add Web-Linked TVs

People watch TV in lots of ways Nielsen does not count. The company said it would add TVs hooked only to the Internet.Damian Dovarganes/Associated Press People watch TV in lots of ways Nielsen does not count. The company said it would add TVs hooked only to the Internet.

9:04 p.m. | Updated

For media executives, there may be nothing worse than a viewer or listener who is not counted.

On Thursday, in a move that might help ease those concerns, Nielsen said that it would start considering Americans who have spurned cable, but who have a television set hooked up to the Internet, as “television households,” potentially adding to the sample of homes that are rated by the company, the standard for television ratings. In front of skeptical network officials, the company pledged to measure TV viewership on iPads and other mobile devices in the future.

Those executives have a gnawing feeling that their consumers are being missed more and more often. As new pipelines open up for viewers and listeners through social media, mobile apps and game consoles, advertisers fret that they don’t know how many people are really seeing their ads, television networks fear they’re not getting credit for getting those people to tune in and record companies wonder how they can keep up with all the ways their customers consume music.

These problems will only worsen in the years to come as new technologies further erase the boundaries that once existed between television and Internet; newspaper and cable news network; video and article.

Nielsen’s move was announced a day after Billboard said it would start including YouTube streams in its calculation of the most popular songs of the week. That shift immediately vaulted “Harlem Shake,” a modestly selling hip-hop single that has become a viral video sensation, to the top of the charts.

Nielsen’s decision was the culmination of two years of thinking, a painfully long time for media executives. Their collective sense of urgency has increased as new Web services like Aereo have allowed people to watch TV channels, ads and all, without a cable subscription or an antenna.

The new definition “will include those households who are receiving broadband Internet and putting it onto a television set,” said Pat McDonough, the senior vice president for insights and analysis at Nielsen. Currently a “television set” is the flat-screen kind, but in the future a tablet computer like an iPad could also be considered a TV set.

Nielsen’s decision won’t have an immediate impact on the ratings system that governs billions of dollars in advertising decisions, because just 0.6 percent of households in the United States meet the new description.

As that statistic shows, a large majority of households have chosen not to cut the cable TV cord to date. But predictions of “cord-cutting” continue to resonate; the Dish Network chief Charles Ergen said earlier this week that “I think cord-cutting is here to stay and will accelerate over time” as customers reject increases to their monthly bills. By beginning to count Internet-only homes, Nielsen is trying to get ahead of the change.

In some media corners on Thursday, the reaction was summarized in a word: Finally. Television executives who have long prodded Nielsen to evolve — and been disappointed before — said they would wait and see how far the company actually goes in counting online views.

Right now, most Internet views of their shows are not counted in the TV ratings that serve as a kind of nationwide popularity contest, either because there are no ads attached (see Netflix) or because the ads are not exactly the same as the ones that appeared on the original TV broadcast (see Hulu). But new services are popping up that stream TV shows and ads without the need for cable.

Broadcasters are eager to have television ratings consider viewers who, for instance, watch N.F.L. games on the Internet.NBC, via Associated Press Broadcasters are eager to have television ratings consider viewers who, for instance, watch N.F.L. games on the Internet.

Aereo, which is available in New York and is expanding to other cities, is one. NimbleTV, which is in a test phase, is another. Further into the future, Intel is planning to start a cablelike subscription service that will be delivered over the Internet, and a bevy of other companies are interested in doing the same thing. If and when these services steal customers away from cable, advertisers will need to know if their spots are being seen and Nielsen will need to track it.

Alternatively, cable companies and the owners of cable channels are trying to keep customers by streaming shows in a manner known as TV Everywhere. In some cases, these services need to be rated, too.

Ms. McDonough said in a telephone interview on Thursday that viewing on Aereo would now be included in the Nielsen ratings sample. Theoretically, a cablelike service from Intel would be included, too.

The new definition also applies to homes that have cable but also have extra TV sets that are hooked up only to PlayStations, Rokus or other Internet devices.

The changes emanated from a measurement committee comprising Nielsen executives and two dozen representatives from networks and advertising firms. The committee met in New York on Tuesday and discussed Nielsen’s proposals. They were subsequently obtained by The Hollywood Reporter.

The proposals, Nielsen said in a statement, were necessary to “more completely reflect media consumption.”

There is intense anxiety about the ratings at the major television networks because, in some cases, their ratings are evaporating before their eyes. The culprits include digital video recorder use, delayed viewership thanks to the existence of Netflix and other online sources, and increased competition from other channels and the Internet. Counting the small sliver of homes that have Internet-connected TVs, but not cable, will not make a big difference in the short term.

Then again, as Ms. McDonough put it, “It’s up to the networks to decide how best they want to monetize their content.”

If a network like ABC decided to run the same commercials with “Modern Family” on TV and on Hulu and on ABC.com and on its app, Nielsen would count all those views equally.

Article source: http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/02/21/tvs-connected-to-the-internet-to-be-counted-by-nielsen/?partner=rss&emc=rss

Media Decoder Blog: Meteor Videos Set Online Viewing Record

How did you watch the videos of the meteor that lit up the sky over Siberia last week? If you’re like many people, you went straight to YouTube, where dozens of amateur videos were uploaded soon after the rare occurrence.

The most-viewed of all the videos, uploaded by the cable channel Russia Today, has received more than 26 million views. On Tuesday, an online measurement company, Visible Measures, reported that the meteor videos had collectively topped 138 million views on the video-sharing sites it tracks, like YouTube and DailyMotion. Visible Measures declared that the meteor was “the fastest video event ever to reach 100 million views.”

That’s a testament to the growth of online video and to the unique qualities of the “video event,” as the measurement company put it. According to NASA, the meteor weighed about 7,000 tons; as Andrew E. Kramer reported in Tuesday’s New York Times, it was “the largest known celestial body to enter Earth’s atmosphere in 100 years.” The astonishing shock wave that accompanied it injured more than a thousand people.

Thanks to YouTube and sites like it, viewers around the world could see the meteor from dozens of angles. Visible Measures counted more than 400 uploaded videos of the meteor, though some of those may have been duplicates.

Television networks quickly pulled together highlight reels of the videos for their newscasts, further extending the reach of the amateur videos. News Web sites like CNN.com and NYTimes.com did the same thing. But Visible Measures does not count news Web sites, so the fact that the amateur videos topped 100 million views by its count shows that many Web users like to see the source material for newscasts.

“Velocity is a big factor with massive online events,” the company said in a blog post Tuesday. “The more urgency people feel to be part of the conversation and to be a part of the moment, the more views a video event will generate. We saw the same story play out with Kony and Stratos.”

Kony was a campaign by a nonprofit group to raise awareness about Joseph Kony, the head of the Lord’s Resistance Army, an African guerrilla group. Videos related to the campaign topped 100 million views in six days last year. Stratos was a daredevil’s record-breaking jump from the stratosphere, sponsored and televised by Red Bull. Videos related to the jump topped 100 million views in five days.

“But the meteor had something those campaigns didn’t,” Visible Measures said. “We all had to watch it, in shock, awe and terror.”

The company’s data showed that the meteor videos gained 73 million views on Saturday, one day after the incident gained worldwide headlines. That one-day total was a record, the company said. “Kony previously held that record with 41.3 million views in a single day. Red Bull’s Stratos comes in a close third with 40.9 million views.”

Article source: http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/02/19/meteor-videos-set-online-viewing-record/?partner=rss&emc=rss

Media Decoder Blog: John Skipper Is Promoted to Lead ESPN

LOS ANGELES — In another move aimed at orderly succession within its ranks, the Walt Disney Company said that John Skipper would become the president of its ESPN sports unit and the co-chair of Disney Media Networks, while George Bodenheimer, the television veteran who now holds those jobs and is also president of ABC Sports, will become executive chairman of ESPN. The changes take effect on Jan. 1, Disney said on Tuesday.

In his new post, Mr. Bodenheimer, who has been at ESPN for 31 years, will give up day-to-day operating responsibilities. A Disney spokeswoman said that the president’s post at ABC Sports would disappear, as the company restructures responsibilities in its sports operation.

Disney reached an agreement in October under which its chief executive, Robert A. Iger, will stay at his post until March 2015, but will then move to a lesser role. The arrangement signals a determination at Disney to avoid the sort of disputes that shook the company when Mr. Iger’s predecessor, Michael D. Eisner, and Roy E. Disney, a nephew of the company’s founder, locked horns over strategy and management.

In announcing the changes at ESPN, Mr. Iger said: “We’ve focused on succession at all levels of Disney for some time now, and consistent with that approach, George initiated conversations last spring” toward the changes described in Tuesday’s statement.

Mr. Bodenheimer was president of ESPN for 13 years, a period of aggressive expansion for the operation, which has eight television networks in the United States, 48 international networks, and about 7,000 employees around the world.

Mr. Skipper joined ESPN in 1997, and first worked with ESPN the Magazine, after having previously held a post with the Disney Publishing Group. In his current position, executive vice president for content, Mr. Skipper has been responsible for programming and production across the ESPN operations in television, radio and other media.

The moves appear to be in line with Disney’s overall bent toward internal promotions, though it remains to be seen whether an internal candidate will eventually assume Mr. Iger’s post as chief executive.

Mr. Skipper, who has been in his current post for six years, has been seen internally as a potential successor to Mr. Bodenheimer.

“We’ve demonstrated that change managed well is healthy – for companies and for people,” Mr. Bodenheimer said in a statement. “After 13 years as president, I felt it was a good time to step away from the day-to-day management of ESPN and let others take the lead. I very much appreciate Bob’s support over the years, and look forward to my future role with ESPN.”

Mr. Skipper is taking over what is arguably the most important and influential network on television.

Because it carries so many must-see sporting events, ESPN earns roughly $4 per cable and satellite subscriber per month, more than twice as much as any other cable channel, according to the research firm SNL Kagan. ESPN makes up almost 15 percent of the entire cable industry’s revenues, the firm said in a research report this week.

Much of that money is spent on the television rights for football, basketball and other sports, cementing the network’s dominance in the sports world.

Brian Stelter contributed reporting.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=e1031be2c1f7663940cac3429e445722

Occupy Wall Street Puts the Coverage in the Spotlight

But in almost every other respect, mainstream news media outlets have been put right in the middle by the movement.

Newspapers and television networks have been rebuked by media critics for treating the movement as if it were a political campaign or a sideshow — by many liberals for treating the protesters dismissively, and by conservatives, conversely, for taking the protesters too seriously.

The protesters themselves have also criticized the media — first for ostensibly ignoring the movement and then for marginalizing it.

Lacking a list of demands or recognized leaders, the Occupy movement has at times perplexed the nation’s media outlets. Press coverage, minimal in the first days of the occupation in New York, picked up after amateur video surfaced online showing a police officer using pepper spray on protesters. On several occasions, video of confrontations with the police, often filmed by the protesters, has propelled television coverage.

In the initial coverage, “I saw almost nothing that talked about our reasons for being there, and that trend has largely continued,” said Patrick Bruner, an organizer for Occupy Wall Street in New York. He said the group welcomed investigations of “our ideas, why we’re here, what we’re saying and talking about.”

Alicia Shepard, who was until recently the ombudsman for NPR, said most news coverage of Occupy “hasn’t been about the issues, it’s been about who’s up and who’s down,” likening it to the “horse race” style of coverage prevalent in political campaigns.

An analysis by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism indicates that the movement occupied 10 percent of its sample of national news coverage in the week beginning Oct. 9, then steadily represented about 5 percent through early November.

Coverage dipped markedly, to just 1 percent of the national news hole, in the week beginning Nov. 6, supporting Ms. Shepard’s assertion that it had “died down” before the early morning eviction in New York last Tuesday. It has since rebounded strongly.

Throughout the protests, Occupy Wall Street has become something of an ideological litmus test, with accusations of media bias from the left and the right. Days after the protest began in New York, the liberal filmmaker Michael Moore appeared on MSNBC, asserting that the mass media had a tendency to play down left-wing protests.

Conversely, L. Brent Bozell III, the president of the conservative Media Research Center, appeared on Sean Hannity’s show on Fox telling other media outlets to “put their pompoms down for a minute.”

Now, any time there are misstatements of fact — on Thursday the Fox News affiliate in New York falsely reported that protesters planned to “shut down” the subways, and “CBS Evening News” reported that hundreds had turned out for an afternoon rally when in fact many thousands had — questions about bias are raised.

Even as some protesters have complained about the media, others have courted coverage, and still others have taken matters into their own hands. For more than a month, Tim Pool, a 25-year-old from Illinois, has been attending Occupy Wall Street events in New York and live-streaming them to the Internet from his cellphone. “I just wanted to see an accurate portrayal of what was happening without internal or external bias,” he said.

Mr. Pool clearly sympathizes with the protesters but considers himself independent from the group. At the peak of the protests in New York on Thursday, 30,000 people were watching his shaky video feed at any given moment, according to his host site, Ustream. Mr. Pool said the police officers treated him like a protester, not a cameraman, raising questions about who qualifies as a reporter in the Internet age and what rights they should be afforded, if any.

The questions are relevant in part because 26 reporters and photographers have been arrested at protests linked to the movement, according to a count by Josh Stearns of the media advocacy group Free Press. A significant portion of those arrested were freelance workers, students and writers for alternative publications. “As journalism is changing,” Mr. Stearns said, “it’s going to create new friction and conflict over what we mean by the First Amendment.”

Many journalists were blocked from Zuccotti Park as the eviction took place on Tuesday morning, leading to accusations of police suppression of media coverage.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said the restrictions were put in place “to prevent a situation from getting worse and to protect members of the press.”

Journalism groups have filed complaints about the restrictions and arrests, resulting in renewed scrutiny of how the Police Department processes requests for press credentials. Of the 10 reporters arrested in New York on Tuesday, half had credentials. Discussing the arrests, Mr. Stearns said, “In the heat of the moment it may be very hard to tell who is and who isn’t a journalist,” though he said that was no excuse.

Some reporters have reported being threatened by protesters in the last two months, but for the most part the criticisms have been confined to signs and shouts, particularly when Fox News cameras are nearby.

Attesting to the opinionated tone of much television coverage, Fox hosts and guests have described the protesters as a “group of nuts and lunatics and fascists” (Karl Rove), “demonic loons” (Ann Coulter) and “a bunch of wusses” (Greg Gutfeld).

On MSNBC, meanwhile, optimism reigns in comments like “it is what working people are talking about” (Ed Schultz) and “it has the support of tens of millions of Americans” (Michael Moore).

A number of journalists have been pilloried for their perceived opinions, including the CNN host Erin Burnett, who mocked the New York occupation on her broadcast. Critics seized on the fact that she was engaged to a bank executive.

The public radio host Lisa Simeone was dismissed by one of her employers, Soundprint, after she was reported to be a leader of an Occupy camp in Washington, and a freelance journalist, Caitlin Curran, was fired by “The Takeaway” radio show after she was photographed holding her boyfriend’s sign at a protest. In an essay for Gawker, Ms. Curran wondered what ethics codes she had violated since she said Occupy Wall Street lacked a single “message and focus.”

The absence of broad media attention initially gave protesters a shared grievance. Since the Vietnam War, there have been many instances when protest movements have criticized the media over perceived slights, said Todd Gitlin, a professor of journalism and sociology at Columbia who helped to organize the first national antiwar protests in the 1960s.

But there is less of an “obsession” about that these days, he said, “because they’re making their own media.”

There is The Occupied Wall Street Journal newspaper, for instance, and the “We Are the 99 Percent” group blog.

Priscilla Grim, who has helped produce both, said she was “hoping to see a real resurgence in independent media, to not just cover the issues of Occupy, but to cover the issues that all people are dealing with.”

Mr. Bruner, the Occupy Wall Street organizer, echoed that. Early on, he courted CNN, The New York Times and other news outlets by e-mailing reporters and editors with daily protest updates. But, he said, “we’re fighting a system, and this media is a part of the system.”

He added, ”And when this media doesn’t cover us in a fair light, the desire isn’t to shame them, it’s to create an alternative.”

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=68efc80f922dcc23b5d474f537759f10

Ownership of TV Sets Falls in U.S.

The Nielsen Company, which takes TV set ownership into account when it produces ratings, will tell television networks and advertisers on Tuesday that 96.7 percent of American households now own sets, down from 98.9 percent previously.

There are two reasons for the decline, according to Nielsen. One is poverty: some low-income households no longer own TV sets, most likely because they cannot afford new digital sets and antennas.

The other is technological wizardry: young people who have grown up with laptops in their hands instead of remote controls are opting not to buy TV sets when they graduate from college or enter the work force, at least not at first. Instead, they are subsisting on a diet of television shows and movies from the Internet.

That second reason is prompting Nielsen to think about a redefinition of the term “television household” to include Internet video viewers.

“We’ve been having conversations with clients,” said Pat McDonough, the senior vice president for insights and analysis at Nielsen. “That would be a big change for this industry, and we’d be doing it in consultation with clients if we do it.”

Nielsen’s household figures suggest that while the TV set is still firmly at the center of the average American’s media life, a small minority of Americans are finding ways to live without it. The “persistently rocky economy” is “the driving factor,” the company says in the report to be released Tuesday.

Similarly, the economy was the reason cited by Nielsen when the percentage of homes with sets declined in 1992. That decline, the company’s report says, “also followed a prolonged recession and was reversed during the economic upswing of the mid-1990s.” If the current decline persists, it will have profound implications for the networks, studios and distributors that are wedded, at least in part, to the current television ecosystem.

Nielsen’s estimates incorporate the results of the 2010 census as well as the behavior of the approximately 50,000 Americans in the national sample that the company relies upon to make ratings projections. “One thing we are seeing in the Nielsen sample are fewer people owning TVs,” Ms. McDonough said. It was first evident in the sample in late 2008, she said, during the worst of the financial crisis and the recession.

Nielsen’s research into these newly TV-less households indicates that they generally have incomes under $20,000. “They are people at the bottom of the economic spectrum for whom, if the TV breaks, if the antenna blows off the roof, they have to think long and hard about what to do,” Ms. McDonough said. Most of these households do not have Internet access either. Many live in rural areas.

The transition to digital broadcasting from analog in 2009 aggravated the hardship for some of these households. Some could not afford to upgrade, Nielsen surmised, though the government tried to provide subsidies in those situations.

And some in rural areas could not receive digital signals as effectively as analog signals for technical reasons. In those cases, “if you’re an affluent household — or most middle-class households — you’re going to get a satellite dish. If you’re a struggling household, likely you’re not going to be able to afford that option,” Ms. McDonough said.

Then there are the tech-savvy Americans who once lived in a household with a television, but no longer do. These are either cord-cutters — a term that refers to people who stop paying for cable television — or people who never signed on for cable. Ms. McDonough suggested that these were younger Americans who were moving into new residences and deciding not to buy a TV for themselves, especially if they “don’t have the financial means to get one immediately.”

Nielsen has not yet assessed what proportion of the decline can be attributed to this behavior. But the decline in the percentage of homes with sets is sure to kick off another round of speculation about cord-cutting.

Sensitive to its clients’ concerns, Nielsen explains the trend this way in the report: “While Nielsen data demonstrates that consumers are viewing more video content across all platforms — rather than replacing one medium with another — a small subset of younger, urban consumers seem to be going without paid TV subscriptions for the time being. The long-term effects of this are still unclear, as it is undetermined if this is also an economic issue that will see these individuals entering the TV marketplace once they have the means, or the beginning of a larger shift to online viewing.”

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=863cc70716c90707ab8ed1c1e77a90b5