Nielsen Is Finally Including Online Viewers in Its Television Ratings

Nielsen, the company that determines whether or not your beloved television shows even matter, has been perching dangerously on the verge of irrelevancy for years—but all that's about to change. After sitting idly by as internet viewership skyrocketed, Nielsen has finally decided to start taking note of the unhealthy amounts of time we spend curled up under the loving glow of a laptop screen.

Going solely off today's Nielsen data, you'd conclude that shows like Community, Breaking Bad, and Mad Men can barely rouse up lukewarm indifference, much less coveted advertising dollars. But as we all know, these shows have massive, sometimes frighteningly dedicated fan bases, and this largely in thanks to online viewership.

Admittedly, Nielsen hasn't been totally blind to this new internet fad, it did announce just a few months ago plans to include streaming figures in its ratings, even if that only just scratches the surface of the internet's viewing base. And last December it announced something entirely separate from its traditional ratings called the "Nielsen Twitter TV Rating," which is essentially just a way for Nielsen to associate itself with Twitter and seem hip with the kids.

Now, though, broadcast and cable networks such as NBC, Fox, ABC, Univision, Discovery, and A+E are enrolled in a "Nielsen Digital Program Ratings" pilot program, with a larger commercial rollout soon to follow.

There's a reason it's taken this long, though, as internet viewing does come with its own host of problems. Unlike TV viewing, there's no way to track how long someone might be watching a particular show, which is a major consideration for advertisers and, consequently, whether or not your show gets axed. Still, this is a major step in the right direction, and you can finally rest easy knowing that those countless, immobile hours spent with your laptop glued to your face weren't for naught. [Wall Street Journal]

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