Nielsen Media Research is in talks with several broadcast and cable networks concerning the future inclusion of out-of-home TV viewers in its ratings measurement service.

The issue of so-called ‘lost viewers’ – those who watch TV elsewhere than in their own home – has been an unresolved problem for at least two decades.

The broadcasters are eager that the out-of-homers be included in the ratings data, although the stumbling block is that perennial question: who pays? Advertisers and agencies, it seems are far less eager to part with their dollars for the additional data.

However, Nielsen is now considering setting-up an “extended home-measurement initiative”. Initially this would involve installing additional meters in the vacation residences of second-home-owning Nielsen panel members. Later this could extend to the siting of meters in the college dormitories of Nielsen families with kids at university.

The additional viewing locations could be in place by the 2003-2004 season and would capture about 40% of all out-of-home viewing. Says Nielsen’s senior vp of communications Jack Loftus: “The out-of-home data could be fully integrated into the existing Nielsen household sample by the start of the 2005-2006 season.”.

The cost of the extended metering is said to be in region of $1 million (€1.004m; £0.64m) and would be the responsibility of participating broadcasters.

According to a Nielsen staffer who preferred to remain anonymous: “We've been hot to do this for a while. But money has always been a big obstacle. Metering more locations is very expensive, and getting enough networks to pay for it isn’t easy.”

Data sourced from: (USA); additional content by WARC staff