One of the biggest fears of the broadcast industry is that people watching on different media will destroy their Nielsen ratings, and therefore their ability to charge advertisers the same rates. We’ve already seen how shows like Firefly and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles were cancelled because their DVR numbers weren’t counted, and how shows like Fringe were saved by those exact same time-shifting DVR viewers.
Now Nielsen is redefining a “TV home” as pretty much anyone with the ability to watch video, and is using some fancy math to count internet watchers, as well. This rejiggering may have an effect on the Aereo lawsuits, as the secondary issue that broadcast networks have with the service is its incompatibility with ratings tracking. As more and more television watching moves to the “on-demand” realm, the more these things are going to matter, and it’s good to see Nielsen not late to the game for once.
The new rules will take effect with this fall’s programming in September, which hopefully will save future genre programming from premature death as its viewers — either enamored with technology, or simply with other things to do — tune out of live showings more and more. Now if we could only get an “opt in” to being a Nielsen family, or simply use all cable households with an “opt out,” for more accurate tracking.