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Nielsen Will Start Counting Mobile TV Viewers

Americans are still watching five hours of live television a day. But Nielsen will now count those who watch on smart phones and tablets too.
A grandmother and her grandson are watching an animated cartoon on the ipad. Jan Haas / dpa via AP file

If you watch your favorite TV shows on a smartphone or tablet, whether you launch a browser or an app, you will no longer be left out. Beginning in the fall, Nielsen — the company that measures television audiences — will start counting you as a regular TV viewer, the company announced Tuesday at the Television Critics Association summer press tour in Los Angeles.

"This was a big ask," said Cheryl Idell, Nielsen's executive vice president of client solutions. "Everyone of the screens I am looking at right now has to be measurable, so we had to this in a way that the whole industry could support."

To count mobile viewers, Nielsen, for example, will embed "software meters" in apps or browsers to identify when a piece of content is running. But you won't be counted if you don't want to be—users will make the choice when the app is launched.

"You're not going to suddenly see a dramatic change in these numbers because the content is just being made available this way," Idell said. "A lot has to happen in the industry — TV everywhere deals, a lot of advertisers don't have rights to run the same ads in digital, and these apps that do exist need more promotion."