Out of Home TV Viewing Has Big Impact on Audience Size

November 3, 2009

Picture for Post #37Arbitron continues to make progress in their effort to measure out-of-home television viewing.  Pierre Bouvard, Arbitron’s Executive Vice President, says up to 35% of Americans are watching TV out-of-home, and stations aren’t getting credit for out-of-home viewing using the existing ratings system.

But, thanks to Portable People Meter (PPM) technology, TV networks and stations will soon be getting credit for total viewing, not just at-home viewing.

The PPM was developed by Arbitron to more accurately measure the number of people watching TV. The device is carried like a pager and picks up audio codes hidden within a station’s broadcast.  So, it doesn’t rely on viewers to punch a button or write in a diary to record their viewing habits.  The meter does all the work.

TBS (Turner Broadcasting) was the first client to sign with ARB-TV, and during the MLB Playoffs discovered the value of out-of-home audience measurement. 

According to Arbitron, the out-of-home viewership of the baseball playoffs increased the total audience size by 27% for adults 25-54.

Sports fans in bars are just part of the story.  When the PPM was tested in Houston, Arbitron noted significant out-of-home audiences in every demo daypart, including women 18-49 during daytime hours.  During the test period, a 17% audience increase was reported for W18-49.

ARB-TV reveals the top places for out-of-home viewing are:

1)      Friend’s House

2)      Bars & Restaurants

3)      At Work

The important thing to remember is that out-of-home TV viewership is not currently measured and not reflected in the ratings that stations provide their clients.  From a media planning standpoint, that’s not good.

However, until there’s a new ratings system firmly in place to measure out-of-home viewership, retail advertisers will continue to reach viewers they’re not paying for … and in this economy, that’s not bad.

Enjoy it while it lasts.

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