TV viewing studied

Nielsen, Gemstar-TV to watch IPG usage

Nielsen Media Research is launching a research trial with on-screen listings provider Gemstar-TV Guide International. New study is intended to measure the impact of Interactive Program Guides (IPGs) on viewing behavior and precisely how and when viewers actually use them.

Among other things, survey will report on channel-surfing behavior, how many people used the IPG to view an advertisement, how much time was spent viewing a particular ad and what action was taken after the ad was viewed.

Companies said they should have results of the study during 2nd quarter 2004.

Combined with Nielsen’s significantly larger 10,000-home forthcoming research survey with TiVo households, the study on IPG use is intended to give advertisers and programmers an opportunity to learn more about how new technology gets used in the home, said Nielsen spokeswoman Anne Elliot. Neither survey is intended to provide data that could be projected across the national viewing population and is intended only to provide general insights, she said.

Neither Nielsen nor Gemstar are entirely sure what the research might show. “We could find that people surf less, because they can find what they’re looking for more easily; or more, because they can see how many options they have,” Elliot said.

Home habits studied

Gemstar will supply Nielsen with 500 set-top boxes equipped with TV Guide On Screen, the group’s primary IPG for consumer electronics products. Nielsen will then install the boxes in 300 U.S. Nielsen homes that do not currently have an IPG in the house. TV Guide also will provide customer service support to the participating households, as well as collecting, processing and supply the data to Nielsen, which will audit and analyze the data.

Such data could be critical to Gemstar’s ongoing efforts to convince advertisers that its program guide is a legitimate hub for viewers.

Study “will give both TV Guide and Nielsen vital information that will help the television industry — distributors, programmers and advertisers — understand the impact of IPGs on television viewing and the differences in tuning behavior once an IPG is introduced in the home,” said Bill Rosolie, senior vice president, TV Guide Television Advertising Sales. Rosolie also said research should quantify impact of IPG advertising, a central plank to Gemstar’s businses model.

Gemstar is also looking to study how its digital cable IPG is used.

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