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Nielsen's Mobile Ratings Are Coming -- But You Probably Won't Notice Right Away

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11:40 AM PDT 7/8/2014 by Michael O'Connell

Execs at the media company say the adoption of tablets and mobile phones into TV measurement will start small, commensurate with comparability small adoption and the frequency of time-shifting.

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As audiences continue to seek new platforms, timetables and providers in their television consumption, measurement gurus Nielsen continue to make efforts to account for all viewers. And at the prompting of clients, both TV and advertising, Nielsen next launches mobile ratings this fall.

Executive vp, US Media, Cheryl Idell was on hand for the first panel of the Television Critics Association summer press tour to wade through details for some of the more flummoxed reporters in attendance. And while she was optimistic about the potential moving forward, Idell curbed any suggestion that traditional ratings would see any immediate lift from fall's mobile roll-out.

"Around September through November there will be a preview period where they wont be included in the ratings," said Idell, noting that networks were keen to get a first look at the data before the information goes public. And even then, lifts will be marginal — at least where live-plus-same day ratings are concerned.

The additional platforms will also only lump in linear ads (the one shared with first-runs on TV) and not dynamic ones (the targeted ads more common on vehicles like Hulu). The latter data will be used for other purposes

Idell also wanted to do "demystify" the notion that live TV viewing, in the traditional sense, is on the wane. Live TV viewing, on the whole, has stayed the same for the last three years, while time-shifting has surged 30 percent. It's time-shifting where the mobile numbers may make the biggest impact, since most mobile viewing happens outside the window of same-day ratings. There is no set date for when mobile ratings will start their trial rollout for networks, or when that will end and the data will get rolled in to public ratings, but Nielsen implied it would be before year's end.

And because no ratings discussion would be complete without touching on the mystery of Netflix, one reporter closed out the session by asking if there would be similar data for streamers. 

"We're not in business with Netflix yet," Idell said to several laughs, "but we would love to be able to be."

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