Neilsen in cable STBs

Nielsen will offer a new service that uses cable set-top boxes to shed light on people’s TV-viewing habits. Under the deal with Charter Communications, Nielsen receives information from 320,000 households in Los Angeles and then develops second-by-second data that it can sell to clients like media agencies and advertisers.

Nielsen has worked for years with many telephone, cable and satellite-TV operators. But this is the first time it is offering a service to its clients based on set-top-box data.Supporters of set-top-box data say it is more useful to marketers and less burdensome to participants than traditional Nielsen ratings. The set-top boxes cover many more households, and, unlike the panels, researchers don’t have to secure agreement from those households to participate.

“With advertisers asking for more accountability, we thought it would be a great opportunity to work with a trusted research name to be able to take this aggregated anonymous data and to begin to understand it better so we in turn can give our advertisers more intelligence,” says Jim Heneghan, senior vice president of Charter Media.

Nielsen says its service will give clients more data on smaller, niche channels and high-definition viewing. Later on, Nielsen expects to merge its second-by-second data with information from its panels and other Nielsen data, such as consumer-purchasing information, or data from Claritas, which provides demographic information.

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