Nielsen to Fix iPad Blind Spot
But even when Nielsen starts to track that, the results are expected to have a minimal effect on ratings because, for now, it only applies to consumers who have purchased tablets and live in markets where cable operators support that capability, Matt O'Grady, Nielsen's EVP of cross-platform measurement, said here Tuesday on a panel dedicated to over-the-top (OTT) video.
Still, Nielsen wants to get out ahead of the trend before TV viewing on iPads goes mainstream.
"There's very little premium TV-based C3 content that's being served online," he said. (C3 is the way that commercial minutes are measured in programs that are viewed live and time-shifted via VoD or DVR playback in the three days following the original broadcast.)
"The fact that [iPads are] streaming live TV has our attention," O'Grady said.
The plan, he said, is to bring to the iPad Nielsen's "extended screen model" that's already being used to measure broadband video delivered to PCs and Macs. That will fix an iPad blind spot that has some programmers concerned that they will be penalized if they don't get credit for tablet-based viewing. (See TW Cable, Viacom Take iPad Fight to Court .)
For now, just two U.S. MSOs -- Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) and Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC) -- have launched iPad apps that let customers deliver live TV channels to iPads so long as they are accessing that programming from in their homes. Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) plans to launch a similar live-TV feature later this year for its Xfinity TV app. (See Comcast Keeps Eye on the iPad Prize, Cablevision Launches iPad App With 280+ Channels , Comcast to Stream TV to iPads, Android Tablets , Top Ten Ways the iPad Is Changing Cable and TWC's iPad App Launches With (Some) Live TV.)
And being able to measure viewing on these new displays is important for programmers as they execute their TV Everywhere strategies, said Jeremy Legg, Turner Broadcasting System's SVP of business development and multi-platform distribution. "We need to be in these places, and be in these places with our best content."
It will become even more significant as operators and programmers work out TV Everywhere deals that allow consumers to access linear channels outside the home on tablets, smartphones and other mobile displays as part of their cable subscriptions.
"We don't think viewing should be limited in the home," Legg said. "We just want it wrapped in a business model that makes sense, and a way that can be measured."
Boxee CEO Avner Ronen said offering TV Everywhere services to protect cable's video subscription base isn't enough. He suggested that MSOs should go a step further and pay programmers for rights that would let them create subscription TV packages that could be sold outside their traditional franchise areas and delivered over the top.
"Don't use those [dollars] to play defense. Use them to play offense," Ronen said.
— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable