Nielsen to increase size of sample audience for TV ratings

Nielsen to increase size of its audience panel for TV ratings; including in Los Angeles

Measurement giant Nielsen is expanding its sample audience used to calculate ratings for television shows.

The New York company said Wednesday that it would steadily increase the size of its audience panel in several major cities, including Los Angeles.

Nielsen plans to add an additional 300 homes to its Los Angeles panel next year. Currently there are about 1,000 homes in the Los Angeles region included in the sample, which is sometimes referred to as "Nielsen Families."

Nielsen has installed electronic devices known as "people meters" in 16,916 homes nationwide. Nielsen uses information gleaned from those devices to determine the popularity of TV shows and local newscasts. 

Los Angeles is the nation's second-largest TV market. Nielsen also plans to add 300 homes next year to its audience panel in New York, which is the nation's largest TV market.

The expansion represents a 30% increase in sample size, Nielsen said.

The company's goal is to boost the quality and stability of its TV ratings, as well as provide more reliable demographic information about people who watch TV shows.

Nielsen sells its audience information to TV networks, advertising agencies and consulting firms. Ratings are used to set commercial ad rates for shows.

“Nielsen is committed to continuous improvement of quality local television measurement now and into the future," Matt O’Grady, Nielsen's executive vice president and managing director of local media, said in a statement.

In some cities, the expansion will begin this year. 

During the next few months, Nielsen expects to increase its audience sample by 200 homes each in Dallas, Denver, Houston, Miami and Washington, D.C.

The expansion should continue to other cities in 2015, including San Francisco, Boston, Chicago and Philadelphia.

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