Comcast partners with Nielsen to experiment with ads for on-demand content

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Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA) is teaming with Nielsen to determine a way for advertisers to insert current ads into on-demand episodes that are being viewed by consumers days after they originally air.

In an interview with Variety, Comcast's senior vice president and general manager of video services Matt Strauss said that the companies are working in conjunction with some of the networks to determine a measurement for on-demand commercial ratings that would find out if the audience that is watching VOD content is useful to companies that sponsor TV programs. In other words, can this audience be measured and is there a business model for advertisers?

Comcast and Nielsen hope to have some answers in the first quarter of 2014. And many experts believe that once there are some metrics to measure the viewership of VOD content,  on-demand will become a part of the networks' ad sales efforts.

Comcast also believes that the tests it's conducting with Nielsen may help TV networks gain more ground in the overall ratings race. According to Variety, since 2007 advertisers have paid only for viewers who watch the commercials that accompany the program when it first airs. But TV networks, which are seeing audiences watch shows several days beyond that window, think they ought to be paid for more. However, that concept has been met with resistance from media buyers.

According to Comcast, 43 percent of on-demand viewing of a current episode takes place within three days of the show's original air date. Using on-demand commercial ratings and adding the exact same ad load that accompanied the current episode to prior episodes, Comcast estimates 60 percent of viewing would take place within that three-day window.

Interestingly, earlier this year CBS Corp. announced it would begin releasing ratings information that include data on viewing from cable video-on-demand and online video sites. One of the goals behind CBS' strategy was to help it drive increased advertising revenue from distribution on the free VOD platforms major cable MSOs offer subscribers.  

For more:
- see this Variety article
- see this Deadline article

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