Nielsen People Metering Shows Big Uptick in 18-34 TV Watching...if you believe it.

David Kiley

Nielsen Market Research reported that people-meter data from the six local markets its monitoring with the system showed dramatic increases in the number of viewers 18 to 34 in July 2005 vs. July 2004. The increase showed up in all of the markets and in most day parts. The meters, which are meant to be an improvement over paper diaries, track viewership of local broadcast and cable stations.

In Washington, D.C., the 18-to-34 viewership increase was 83%; Philadelphia, 56%; San Francisco, 55%; New York, 24%; Chicago, 21%; and in Los Angeles, 10%. Why such big increases? Because, as mdia agencies have complained for years, the paper diary system used for local market ratings substantially under counted 18-34 year olds who were less likely to fill them out.

the greatest overall increase was in the early morning (weekdays from 5 a.m. to 7 a.m.), overnight (weekdays from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m.) and Saturday (from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.) with daytime programming showing increases in the number of men in that age group watching. I'm not sure what's more distressing: that young men are staying up all night or that they are watching more insipid day-time TV than was thought.

Currently, Nielsen has about 8,000 people meters deployed across the U.S., though it expects that number to rise to 10,000 by May 2006. It has about 800 local-people-meter homes in each market where it offers the service.

Advertisers spent $17.3 billion last year in the so-called "spot" or local martkets. Stations will look to utlize the new data to extract higher ad rates from advertisers.

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