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Nielsen Reverses Decline in U.S. TV Homes

Tally climbs back up thanks to new inclusion of broadband TV

Nielsen has reversed a two-year slide in the number of U.S. TV homes in which it tracks TV ratings thanks to a little help from a new calculus that takes into account broadband-connected TVs.

The 2014 advance national TV household universe estimate is 115.6 million homes, up 1.2% from the previous season. The 2012-13 season represented the second consecutive year-over-year loss, which began in 2011-12 when the tally tumbled to 114.7 million from 115.9 million in 2010-11.

The expansion comes as a result of a decision Nielsen made in February to change the definition of what constitutes a U.S. TV home to those that gets video delivered over the Internet to a TV, as Variety first reported. That could include via gaming console like Microsoft XBox or Apple TV.

The metric will be crucial to the TV industry as the networks set advertising rates at the upfronts for the coming season.

The universe estimates are also based on population data from the U.S. Census Bureau and other sources.

The new 2014 tally also includes a Nielsen estimate of 294 million viewers over the age of 2 that live in the 115.6 homes, up 1.6% over last year.

Nielsen has been trying to keep up with increased viewing levels across platforms in recent years. Just last week, the measurement service announced a Digital Program Ratings initiative that will track online consumption of TV programming.

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