PPM Test Compared to Nielsen Numbers

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In Houston, just 7% of TV households with a digital video recorder are watching recorded shows and out-of-home TV viewing accounted for 15% of overall TV viewing. Those are some of the results from ratings provider Arbitron’s test of its new Portable People Meter (PPM) service in Houston, Nielsen’s 10th-largest TV market.

Arbitron also compared results from its PPMs to Nielsen Media Research’s TV ratings from the July ratings period and found ratings increases in nearly every daypart, with early morning, day time and weekends seeing the largest gains. Spanish-language TV stations and medium-sized cable networks experienced the largest gains, but the Big Four broadcast networks increased ratings 15% in adults 18-49 years old under the PPMs, Arbitron said.

The PPMs do alter the competitive landscape. In July, ABC affiliate KTRK ranked No. 1 in the Nielsen sample and the PPM survey. However, with PPMs, Univision affiliate KXLN ranked second, while CBS station KHOU was No. 2 with the Nielsen data.

Pierre Bouvard, president of the PPM service, said the biggest surprise was high levels of out-of-home viewing. “We have discredited out-of-home viewing as non-valuable and stereotyped it as guys at bars,” he said. Women are watching heavily of out home and day time programming is popular.

PPMs are a pager-like device that participants carry with them for at least eight hours a day. The company says compliance is strong and many users are keeping devices with them for 14-15 hours.

Arbitron plans to publish results from its service every month and, in October, it will again compare PPM ratings to Nielsen’s ratings book.

All the local TV stations and 40-50 cable networks are participating in the PPM test. The service also measures radio audiences and the majority of local radio outlets are involved, with the notable exceptions of Cox Radio and Radio One.

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