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Nielsen putting in place systems for digital-TV ratings

All relevant parties - station owners, programme producers and media agencies - are now working towards the impending launch of the digital television system. Nielsen is making the necessary preparation as well where television ratings are concerned.

Nielsen collects audience-viewing data using people-meter methodology. This device detects the signal of various digital channels broadcast over the "must carry" system and reports its findings simultaneously. It is applicable to analog television, satellite television, cable television, TrueVisions and other systems as well.

Starting next year, these meters will be progressively developed to give them the capability to analyse digital audio signals, a process where digital television ratings can be evaluated more efficiently. The current people meters will eventually be upgraded or replaced by innovation that best reflects the evolution of technology.

Nielsen currently surveys the television-signal reception of the various systems on an annual basis, using a sample size of about 6,000 households. Therefore, the penetration of digital-television signal reception can be integrated into this annual survey. The media industry will be periodically informed of the findings as a result.

Sample sizes will be increased to correspond with the increase in television channels. This will be done in two phases. The first phase will see a sample size of 2,000 households or about 7,000 individuals by the end of this year. Later, with the second phase of the programme, the sample size will become 2,200 households or approximately 7,700 individuals by the end of 2015.

Programmes and commercials will be identified with greater details in difference databases. The first database stores information on the active television audience, their gender, age, education, income and other particulars. It reveals the channel, time, date, duration and channel-switching behaviour as well.

The second database stores the details of the programme being broadcast and the commercials aired at that time. This database identifies the length of each commercial in seconds, the product being featured and the company to which that product belongs. We are now in the process of updating the current software to accommodate the addition of digital television channels.

This software is most necessary for the analysis and the processing of data collected. New software will be introduced as well. Those are now being tested continually before future deployment with Nielsen subscribers.

When the digital television system is in full broadcast, Nielsen's Television Audience Measurement service will be ready to serve the industry as well.

Sinthu Peatrarut is managing director for media client leadership, NielsenThailand.


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