It already uses the LPMs -- which allow it to collect demographic information -- in 18 markets, and is replacing diaries and set-top meters in the other 38 of its 56 metered markets.
The ratings from those meters are used to help stations, advertisers and cable systems set advertising rates.
Once the LPMs are deployed in the 56 markets, Nielsen said, about 70% of U.S. households will be measured by the devices, which track various kinds of TV viewing including broadcast and cable television, mobile-video devices, video games, digital-video recorders, video-on-demand and other time-shifting.
As such, Nielsen will be able to provide continuous demographic reporting in these markets 365 days per year. This will allow local markets to receive demographic information for events such as March Madness, playoff games, award shows and Christmas holiday programming, which typically air outside of traditional “sweeps” measurement periods.
Nielsen said it is also working on ways to replace diaries in smaller markets where the economics aren't there to justify 24/7 metered marketing, including a battery-operated meter that would serve as a kind of electronic diary, measuring one week’s worth of viewing when placed next to the TV set.
It is also working to make those diaries easier to fill out, said spokeswoman Anne Elliot.
Houston; Tampa-St. Petersburg, Fla.; and Seattle-Tacoma, Wash., are the next three markets scheduled to go live with LPMs in October. Eight more markets will go live in 2008, nine in 2009, 16 in 2010 and 10 more in 2011.
“This is a tremendous step forward for television measurement in these markets” said Susan Whiting, executive vice president of Nielsen and chairman of Nielsen Media Research, in a statement.
“Nielsen is committed to continuous improvement in its measurement services, and converting markets to our electronic Local People Meters will significant improve the quality of our local measurement,” she added. “As a key part of this process, we are also committed to working closely with the clients and stakeholders in every market to make the transition as smooth as possible.”