Nielsen Sets Timetable for Cross-Platform Media Measurement

TV screen as people sit to watch a broadcast
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Nielsen is preparing to move into the future — or the present — of TV ratings measurement.

The company on Tuesday announced plans to roll out a cross-media measurement solution that will encompass consumption across platforms and devices. The new metric, Nielsen One, is slated to begin rolling out in late 2022, and Nielsen says its expects that measurement to become the industry standard for buying and selling ad inventory — a $100 billion annual business — by fall 2024.

"With Nielsen One, we are delivering a single, comparable metric for TV and digital that will provide video consumption across all platforms, services and devices. For media buyers and sellers, this means better monetizing their assets and maximizing their investments,'' said Nielsen COO Karthik Rao. "Today's announcement marks a major milestone for Nielsen as we put our cross-media vision into motion. We've made significant enhancements over the last year to turbocharge the tech and data science required to make an industry wide cross-media solution a reality."

Once it begins, the new measurement would represent a sea change in the way media consumption is measured. Nielsen hasn't updated its core ratings metric since the mid-2000s when it started measuring delayed viewing of commercials over three and seven days as DVRs became more prevalent. Nielsen One will encompass all video consumption, regardless of platform and, crucially, the kind of device on which people are watching. Streaming platforms, for instance, have long said that Nielsen doesn't fully measure viewing away from a TV screen, thereby undercounting a segment of the audience.

TV outlets have also started keeping (and occasionally releasing) their one multi-platform audience figures, but there's currently not a comprehensive or uniform third party measurement for nonlinear viewing. That's important, as U.S. consumers now spend more time on streaming and digital media consumption away from the TV screen — a combined 15 trillion minutes of time between March and August of this year — than they do on linear TV (11.1 trillion minutes).

The new platform will also deliver ratings at "subminute" intervals for individual ads and other content, a key move as personalized ads and addressable content becomes more prevalent in the TV realm.