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Nielsen launches online TV ratings pilot

US-based ratings agency Nielsen has launched a pilot programme that will measure audiences for TV content viewed online.

The Nielsen Digital Program Ratings trial will begin later this month and run through July, with participation from the five major TV networks – NBC, CBS, ABC, Fox, and The CW – along with A+E, Discovery, Univision and online portal AOL.

The scheme will provide overnight audience data for TV programming viewed online, including unique audience, stream counts and reach by age and gender.

It will also tie-in with and use the same measurement methods used by Nielsen Online Campaign Ratings – which delivers TV-comparable overnight metrics for online advertising campaigns.

Together, Nielsen claims that its Digital Program Ratings and Online Campaign Ratings will offer “a more holistic view of the online and TV audience for both programming content and associated ad campaigns”.

“The potential to measure video viewing of specific programs on linear TV as well as the Internet is significant. It’s an important step toward reaching the ‘holy grail’ of true cross-platform measurement,” said NBCUniversal’s president of research and media development, Alan Wurtzel.

Eric Solomon, senior VP for global digital audience measurement at Nielsen claimed the pilot is a “major milestone for the industry.”

Nielsen Digital Program Ratings is due a commercial release later this year. While the initial focus will be the measurement of TV content viewed online, additional content types and devices will be supported in future releases.