Nielsen Adding VOD in 2006

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Nielsen told clients Tuesday it will start measuring VOD viewing beginning second quarter 2006.

The phased-in approach will begin by rating "recently aired television programs," i.e. those watched within seven days of their airing on "regular, linear television."

By the fourth quarter 2006, Nielsen will start rating "library product," which it defines as theatrical movies, PPV events, and older TV shows."

To expand its ratings to VOD time-shifted programming, Nielsen will have to expand its use of active/passive meters, which are already employed in its metered markets to measure other time shifted viewing.

Phase one essentially insures that clients are getting credit for time-shifted viewing of their current programming.

Initially, VOD viewing will be combined with other playback ratings, such as from a DVR. But beginning in fourth-quarter 2006, the VOD number can be broken out, though that will require cable MSO's, TV networks and stations to cooperate to make sure that a VOD "flag" is inserted in order to "isolate" the VOD viewing.

for its part, Nielsen pledges to have the technology in place to recognize that flag. 

Saying it realizes most VOD is not recently aired regular TV, phase three, also beginning in fourth quarter 2006, means Nielsen will start measuring library product--like HBO movies--which will require embedding a code in each show, since it will lack the Nielsen codes on already-aired fare.

In February, Nielsen promised to get back to clients within 90 days about their plans for
including VOD viewing in its local and national samples, responding to client requests for measurement of new TV delivery and viewing systems.

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