TV ratings service Nielsen is getting rid of a system that has been used for at least 60 years, replacing its paper diaries with new electronic devices, reports TVNewsCheck.
The paper system will eventually be retired, with the company already phasing out the diaries in 14 markets, the story reports.
“The dismantling has already begun in 14 markets designated by Nielsen, confirmed Shad Family, SVP of local media for Nielsen,” the article notes. “The 14 are the first of the 154 markets in which hand-written ‘viewing diaries’ — paper booklets in which Nielsen participants record by hand what they’ve watched on TV — are still the primary source for viewership data.”
The report notes that the new devices “track viewing in Nielsen households by ‘listening’ to the audio portion of any TV shows that are being watched and a Nielsen ‘audio watermark’ embedded in the signals transmitted by TV stations. The devices — or ‘code readers,’ as Nielsen is calling them — are about the size of a Roku or Apple TV set-top box, Family said.”
While broadcasters are eager for a new system, they are also cautioning Nielsen to move slowly because they have used the paper-based system for so long, the story adds.
“We just want to make sure that Nielsen doesn’t skip a step and is doing all it can to not have this come off as half-baked,” Jon Rand, chief operating officer for Northwest Broadcasting, a station owner, told the publication.
The markets that are seeing the diary-system phased out are: Yakima-Pasco-Richland-Kennewick, Wash. (DMA 122); Grand Rapids-Kalamazoo-Battle Creek, Mich. (40), Harrisburg-Lancaster-Lebanon-York, Pa. (45), Fresno-Visalia, Calif. (54), Albany-Schenectady-Troy, N.Y. (58), Mobile, Ala.-Pensacola (Fort Walton), Fla. (59), Flint-Saginaw-Bay City, Mich. (70), Tucson (Sierra Vista), Ariz. (71), Paducah, Ky.-Cape Girardeau, Mo. (81), Madison, Wis. (82), Charleston, S.C. (95), Reno, Nev. (107), Traverse City-Cadillac, Mich. (118), and Santa Barbara-Santa Maria-San Luis Obispo, Calif. (123).