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Nielsen to Add Nearly 15,000 Television Audience Meters as Part of Diary Replacement Local Measurement Solution

3 minute read | May 2017

Electronic Meters Address Limitations of Set-Top-Box Data and Audience Coverage for Over-the-Air Broadcast Viewers by Bringing More Complete Ratings to 140 Local TV Markets

New York, NY – MAY 16, 2017 – Today, Nielsen (NYSE: NLSN) announced plans to install nearly 15,000 television (TV) audience meters in approximately 7,000 homes across the 140 markets currently measured by Local TV paper diaries. This effort is part of Nielsen’s plan to implement universal electronic television measurement in all 210 Local TV markets. The installation of these electronic meters will provide the coverage needed to address the limitations of solely using set-top-box data for audience measurement in Local TV markets.

“We’ve made great strides to incorporate data from set-top-boxes into our Local TV measurement, however, in that process we’ve uncovered significant challenges with the data,” said Kelly Abcarian, Senior Vice President, Nielsen Product Leadership. “To solve for these limitations, especially measuring growing audiences viewing via over-the-air broadcast, we looked at multiple solutions including online recruited panels and quick-query surveys. Ultimately, we concluded that only Nielsen’s proven TV audience meters allow us to address the challenges that come with set-top-box data.”

Nielsen is bringing stronger, more robust and richer in-market measurement to ensure that Local TV ratings reliably reflect actual TV viewing. As of February 2017, more than 25% of viewing to broadcast stations in the 140 markets measured today by diaries came from over-the-air tuning. The market with the highest level was at 50% over-the-air. Without Nielsen’s expertise in capturing and measuring this important audience, local broadcasters would miss this significant portion of their viewership that is missing from set-top box coverage. The meters will also serve to validate set-top-box data by serving as the truth-set that is used to compare against and deliver actual person-level viewing.

The TV audience meters will be installed in specific homes, including those viewing through over-the-air broadcast. The newly recruited households will serve as a true in-market viewing source with known demographics and TV viewing information, allowing Nielsen to project audience estimates for over-the-air tuning.

In an effort to adequately capture all in-market tuning, Nielsen will also include viewing from homes across the 140 markets using diaries for measurement that contribute to Nielsen’s National People Meter panel. The addition of the new metered homes and existing National People Meter homes will ensure that broadcast stations and digital subchannels that are not included in set-top-box data are measured. Given the targeted placement of these added electronic meters, they will not contribute to Nielsen’s National TV ratings.

“Having a concrete foundation that represents the total market is necessary prior to layering more and more set-top-box data or any other type of big data. Nielsen is committed to delivering comprehensive currency-grade measurement and providing reliable data for all local stations and networks,” said Abcarian.


Gorki De Los Santos,, 646-654-4837


Nielsen Holdings plc (NYSE: NLSN) is a global performance management company that provides a comprehensive understanding of what consumers watch and buy.  Nielsen’s Watch segment provides media and advertising clients with Total Audience measurement services for all devices on which content — video, audio and text — is consumed. The Buy segment offers consumer packaged goods manufacturers and retailers the industry’s only global view of retail performance measurement. By integrating information from its Watch and Buy segments and other data sources, Nielsen also provides its clients with analytics that help improve performance.  Nielsen, an S&P 500 company, has operations in over 100 countries, covering more than 90% of the world’s population. For more information, visit