Next year Neilsen Media Research will add a full-fledged video games component to its national television ratings surveys.
Nielsen currently collects television viewing data from 10,000 U.S. homes, and beginning next year they'll start paying close attention to those same households' video gaming habits. The resulting ratings will be made available via the company's newly announced GamePlay Metrics service, which, according to Nielsen, "will enable the video game industry to develop an advertising business model to offset the steep development costs of new titles for next-generation consoles."
Nielsen's ratings have been a driving force in television programming and advertising decisions since the 1950s, and the company believes the upcoming service is poised to have the same effect on the gaming industry. "The value of an entertainment medium is directly proportional to how well it is measured," said Jeff Herrmann, VP of Nielsen Wireless and Interactive Services, in a press release. "A reliable and accurate standard of measurement for video gaming will drive advertising investment in this medium and help convert video game advertising from a discretionary advertising experiment to a must-have option."
Game titles and other playing details will be "passively recorded" as part of the new system, according to Nielsen. Meanwhile, user-specific household demographics will be gathered electronically via the same set-top "People Meters" that Nielsen has employed in its television research for nearly two decades.
Beginning in mid-2007, Neilsen will provide GamePlay Metrics subscribers weekly reports with survey information on titles, platforms, genres, playing time, and more. In addition to game-specific trends, the reports will provide analysis on player habits, including which television shows gamers are watching when they're not busy playing games.