Nielsen Ratings Get a Modern Makeover

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If smart TVs succeed in their mission to take over your media consumption and many other things in your house as well, then the venerable TV ratings agency Nielsen needs a better way to measure who's watching what that doesn't rely on traditional cable and over-the-air broadcasts.

It appears Nielsen gets the message: it will now report viewing data broken down by the type of connected device consumers are using. Not only will that give a better sense of how many homes across the country have streaming devices, but the new reports will identify brand popularity as well—Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire TV and the like.

The new data will come from Nielsen's national television panel, approximately 40,000 homes across the country, with 100,000 TV sets and 50,000 connected devices like game consoles and smart TVs.

In a further acknowledgement that connected device streaming is the future of television, Nielsen will also combine its new streaming data with conventional cable and broadcast usage to come up with a concept vaguely reminiscent of ancient Egypt: Total Use of Television (TUT).

TUT will undoubtedly give a more realistic picture of who is king of media consumption in the era of cord cutting. It will also help Nielsen, whose bread and butter used to be set-top boxes that measured how many people were viewing the nightly news, stay relevant as more consumers turn to streaming media. 

The ratings agency has also expanded into the mobile device world. It now publishes top 10 lists for most-used mobile apps and measures the market share of mobile operating systems. Its rankings for the speed of wireless data networks recently pegged Sprint as the fastest, though its methodology is very different than everyone else's.

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