Data will allow HBO to tweak on-demand menu

HBO has hired Nielsen to find out who’s watching all those episodes of “Real Sex” on HBO On Demand.

Nielsen has set up a division called National People Meter VOD Audience Measurement service, and HBO has signed up as its first client.

The Nielsen service will let HBO know all of the demographic particulars of who clicks on a series episode or a movie on demand. Data will allow HBO to tweak its video-on-demand menu based on the popularity of individual programs.

Jan Pasquale, senior VP of research for HBO, said that “as our customers increasingly use our on-demand products to watch our shows on a timetable of their choosing, it is essential that we understand this growing shift in viewer behavior.”

The goal, said Pasquale, is “customer satisfaction,” particularly because subscribers are reminded every month when they pay their cable bill that HBO is a — sometimes considerable — extra expense.

Nielsen estimates 35.1 million homes receive on-demand services. And, according to data from Rentrak reported by Jack Wakshlag, chief research officer of Turner Broadcasting, people in these homes ordered a total of 1.7 billion VOD programs in the year to date, up 55% over the 1.1 billion who put in VOD orders during the same period last year.

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