Nielsen is a long-established player in the audience metrics field, covering marketing and consumer information, television and other media measurements including online and mobile. So it comes as little surprise that Nielsen is now expanding its digital measurement scope into online TV content.

Nielsen Digital Program Ratings

The pilot program kicks off at the start of May and will continue through to July, with big-name brands such as A+E, ABC, AOL, CBS, FOX, NBC and more participating in the trial of the new Nielsen Digital Program Ratings, which is setting out to measure digital audiences for online programming.

Nielsen, of course, isn’t new to the online TV realm. Back in December, we reported on the new Nielsen Twitter TV Rating system, which effectively made Twitter the first purely social ranking of TV program popularity in the US. It recently made this tool available in the UK and Japan too.

As for Nielsen Digital Program Ratings, well, this leverages the same measurement methodology already used in its Online Campaign Ratings product, which delivers TV-comparable overnight metrics for online ad campaigns.

From an online TV perspective, the technology will provide similar overnight audience data, including unique audience, stream counts and reach by age and gender for programs viewed online.

“The pilot for Nielsen Digital Program Ratings is a major milestone for the industry,” says Eric Solomon, SVP for Global Digital Audience Measurement at Nielsen.

“As a companion product to Nielsen Online Campaign Ratings, Nielsen Digital Program Ratings will enable clients to better understand the online audience for their programming by harnessing the same methodology Nielsen already uses to measure the audience for related advertising,” he continues.

The initial focus of the Nielsen Digital Program Ratings pilot will be measurement of TV content viewed on the Web via computers, with additional content types and devices supported in future iterations.

So, this is an interesting but unsurprising development from Nielsen, given the massive shift in viewing habits from linear broadcast to streaming and on-demand. It will, of course, need to include a much broader array of devices to accurately measure the audiences, particularly tablets and set-top-boxes (STBs).

Though it is a pilot, Nielsen has already slated in a commercial release for its Digital Program Ratings for later this year.