Ad-supported cable’s total-day July ratings spiked 48% over last year with adults 18-plus in six markets where Nielsen recently installed Local People Meters, the ratings company says.
In two of the cities—Philadelphia and San Francisco—the meters led to cable ratings jumps of 79% and 64%, respectively.
The new meter technology, Nielsen says, is a boon to cable networks, which under the meter/diary system sometimes went underreported. “Our new technology is able to pick up the viewing that might have been overlooked when people were filling out a paper diary the year before,” said a Nielsen spokesperson. “People meters give us the more granular detail we did not get with the diary.”
The meters have come under attack for undercounting broadcasting viewing due to high fault rates (operator error and other factors), but Nielsen argues the meters are better recording the flight of viewers to other media, including cable.
Nielsen has released some ratings data to help make its case for the meters improved measurement.
For the July data, Nielsen broke down demographics—local demos weren't available before the meters—for original episodes of six of the summer’s big cable shows to demonstrate the meters’ ability to report specific viewer attributes.
For example, Into the West attracted (surprisingly, perhaps) the same number—or more—women as men in most markets.
The 4400 attracted more women than men in all markets except Chicago. Paper diaries, which require weeks to collect and read, do not deliver these specifics with such immediacy.
The shows, says the company, represent an accurate sample of the programs that aired on cable this summer. They are: TNT’s The Closer and Into the West, FX’s Over There, Bravo’s Being Bobby Brown, USA’s The 4400 and MTV’s 2005 MTV Music Awards.
The markets Nielsen tracked were: Chicago, New York, L.A., San Francisco, Washington, and Boston.