Nexstar slashing traditional TV ratings to include mobile viewers

Telecommunications giant Nexstar Media is doing away with its traditional TV ratings, which counts viewers on a per-household basis. It will replace it with a system that includes the total number of viewers, including those watching on mobile devices.

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Nexstar is the owner of Tribune Media and operates about 200 stations in 115 markets, including affiliates of ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC. Tim Busch, president of the company’s broadcasting unit, said it has been working with media firm Comscore to give advertisers audience measures across TV, digital, mobile and streaming-video outlets.

The move could be key in a period where more people are streaming on smart devices. Many TV-station owners, in fact, have shown interest in forgoing traditional ratings in place of a broader measure that includes mobile viewers, according to Variety.

The TVB, a trade organization that represents more than 800 TV stations and TV broadcast groups, said it began inquiring about using viewer impressions as a base for making advertising deals. NBCUniversal’s local stations and Hearst Television have said they intend to make similar moves.

Relying on total impressions, some TV-station owners believe, could lure in more advertisers looking to place commercials into top-watched programming.

“We wanted to sell all platforms, indiscriminately of where our viewers are found, whether they are on their tablet, on their desktop, on their television, on their mobile device or whatever may be to come,” Busch told Variety. “We are able to aggregate, de-duplicate and sell one set of eyeballs. When a company says ‘I want to reach your viewers,’ … we are of service to the advertiser to the fullest extent of what we can provide.”

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Media-measurement company Neilson said in a statement it supports local stations opting to use total impressions: “With the increase of cross-platform campaigns, stations are looking to impressions rather than percentages for comparability across platforms.

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"Nielsen has always provided clients with impressions and they are the foundation for all of our calculations. That said, ratings, reach and frequency will still have a strong place in the planning and programming processes.”

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