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Stats Television Entertainment

Your Online TV Watching Can Now Be Tracked Across Devices 126

itwbennett (1594911) writes A partnership between TV measurement company Nielsen and analytics provider Adobe, announced today, will let broadcasters see (in aggregate and anonymized) how people interact with digital video between devices — for example if you begin watching a show on Netflix on your laptop, then switch to a Roku set-top box to finish it. The information learned will help broadcasters decide what to charge advertisers, and deliver targeted ads to viewers. Broadcasters can use the new Nielsen Digital Content Ratings, as they're called, beginning early next year. Early users include ESPN, Sony Pictures Television, Turner Broadcasting and Viacom.
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Your Online TV Watching Can Now Be Tracked Across Devices

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  • by manpeach ( 1493673 ) on Tuesday October 21, 2014 @11:19AM (#48196351)
    Now I'm even happier I cancelled Netflix.
    • Nielsen Digital Content Ratings,
      Tracking your every video cravings,
      ESPN, Sony, Turner, Viacom,
      Want to know where, when, and what you've got on,
      To try to sell you even more crap,
      They say "you're the product" is a bum rap,
      They won't sell you just the program you paid for,
      Because there's no wh*re like an old wh*re.
      Burma Shave
      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 21, 2014 @11:43AM (#48196603)
        All my device are belong to me,
        A pirate's monthly bill is free,
        But the real reason to download, not stream,
        Is "In Putinist Russia, you watch TV!"
        Burma Shave.
      • Because there's no wh*re like an old wh*re.

        I think the vast majority of the votes are in by now, and "Surveillance For The Purpose Of Targeted Ads" was voted just plain evil.

        • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

          To think that whole ads targeted at people is just a great big old scam because it targets what people wanted not what people want ie past tense versus future tense. Ads targeted at content is far more logical however it is far more expensive to provide and means less profits for the advertising provider. Hence the whole PR=B$ scam to convince those buying advertising that targeted ads works and to obscure the reality that is just pisses people off as over time it becomes more noticeably invasive tracking

    • What does cancelling Netflix have to do with this? They used Netflix as an example, yes, but Netflix doesn't use Flash on any platform (it uses either Silverlight or HTML5), and no one has said anything about them setting third-party cookies either in the browser, on the set-top boxes, or while using gaming consoles. It seems to me that they just used Netflix as an example of the sort of stuff they'd like to handle, but the article had no specifics about Netflix itself actually being involved in any of this

  • Ahh but (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 21, 2014 @11:22AM (#48196371)

    Can they track how many times I tried to purchase the content legally before joining a swarm?

    • This should be upvoted.
  • by BarbaraHudson ( 3785311 ) <barbarahudson@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday October 21, 2014 @11:23AM (#48196375) Journal

    For some reason, people haven't cottoned on to the fact that HD content can be received over the air with an old pair of rabbit ears or a more modern $20 antenna.

    Sure, it's not 500 channels, but how many of those 500 channels do you watch anyway? And how many of them are just dupes?

    • by jedidiah ( 1196 ) on Tuesday October 21, 2014 @11:35AM (#48196501) Homepage

      Most of those channels are religious and Spanish channels.

      Of what's left, Netflix does a much better job of replicating most of their content in a superior format with a better user interface.

      Netflix is like the 32 of those rerun dominated channels from your 500 channel cable package.

      • by enjar ( 249223 ) on Tuesday October 21, 2014 @11:49AM (#48196651) Homepage

        I live in the Boston metro area about 25 miles away from the broadcast towers and I get ABC, CBS, NBC, CW, FOX, two PBS and a couple independents. There are a couple Spanish channels and a shopping channel. There are subchannels on each so it ends up being something like 25 channels available. Some of them run reruns and old movies, for sure, but I get first run of anything on broadcast (goes into the TiVo), plus PBS has a lot of decent programming.

        We also have Netflix and Amazon Prime but if you do your homework using sites like antennapoint.com and antennaweb.com you can get an antenna that's correctly sized and point it in the right direction, in addition to getting a rough idea of what you should be able to receive from your location.

      • Most of those channels are religious and Spanish channels.

        This. And I say this as a Christian rather than the typical rabid atheist Slashdot poster, but I have zero interest in watching those channels. Plus, OTA reception where I live is absolutely awful except for religious and Spanish channels and Fox. Oh yes - the CW, which I never watch, comes in very well too. The other major networks (CBS, NBC, ABC) either can't be viewed reliably or not at all where I live. Plenty of people actually know about OTA TV, but it's not a realistic option for everybody.

        Of what's left, Netflix does a much better job of replicating most of their content in a superior format with a better user interface.

        Netflix is like the 32 of those rerun dominated channels from your 500 channel cable package.

        I thi

        • And I say this as a Christian rather than the typical rabid atheist Slashdot poster

          I don't have rabies, you insensitive clod!

          • And I say this as a Christian rather than the typical rabid atheist Slashdot poster

            I don't have rabies, you insensitive clod!

            Don't h8te on rabies or I'll bite you, you insensitive clod!

            Q. What is the first thing to do if you get bitten by an animal with rabies?
            A. Get a pen and paper.
            Q. Why?
            A. To make a list of people who deserve to get bit.
            Q. How will that help?
            A. It won't but it will certainly make you feel better :-)

            And the inevitable s/rabies/ebola/g;

        • by jedidiah ( 1196 )

          Everything is relative.

          Netflix compares poorly to a $200 cable package.

          It compares very well to raw broadcast TV or even broadcast TV filtered through a Tivo.

          Plus antenna reception is a very tricky thing. It's often far from perfect both in terms of the channels you can get and how well you can get them. It's very much a YMMV proposition and is a very fussy sort of thing. Most people don't want to mess with that crap. That's why they have cable.

          • Netflix compares poorly to a $200 cable package.

            Maybe, but it's good enough for me because I don't give a fuck about sports. I can spend another fifteen bucks to rent console games from GameFly, and save the rest for hookers and blow. Who needs cable TV when the internet has better porn for free?

            • by jedidiah ( 1196 )

              > Maybe, but it's good enough for me because I don't give a fuck about sports.

              +...or new content.

              Netflix is great as a "rerun channel". It's like a juiced up version of MeTV or AntennaTV on steroids.

              Beyond that, it kind of sucks and there's really no point in denying it. Netflix by itself is no cable substitute. There's no point in pretending Netflix is something it's not. There's no point in trying to give people the wrong idea.

              Fortunately the streaming landscape is not merely limited to Netflix.

              Althou

              • New content isn't necessary good content, and old content isn't necessarily bad content. Also, "new" is an overloaded adjective. Do you mean new as in recent, or new as in shit you haven't seen before?
              • Beyond that, it kind of sucks and there's really no point in denying it. Netflix by itself is no cable substitute. There's no point in pretending Netflix is something it's not.

                I'm not pretending. Netflix by itself completely replaces cable to my satisfaction. Admittedly, that's a pretty low bar because cable sucks completely. Sure, Netflix and the like doesn't satisfy everyone's needs (what does?), but there's no need to be dismissive of people for whom it works or accuse them of being deceptive or misguided.

          • Netflix compares poorly to a $200 cable package.

            Personally, Netflix not only compares very well to a $200 cable package, it is superior to a $200 cable package. Cable offers nothing of interest to me that I can't get from Netflix, but Netflix is a much better viewing experience.

      • Most of those channels are religious and Spanish channels.

        In case you haven't noticed, there are a lot more Hispanic people than non-Hispanic people in many US states.

        And people like me who like watching soccer games and Hispanic music videos.

    • Generalize much?

      I live in an RF hole so even a high gain antenna up on my roof can't pick up any terrestrial channels... In actual fact, I can pick one channel up but the signal strength is low so it freezes and cuts out making it essentially unwatchable, and that's during clear sunny weather.

      Fortunately, I get everything I need from the Bittorrent channel.

      • Yes, this. And the switchover to digital broadcasting means that there are more people than ever who simply can't receive OTA broadcasts.

    • by JustNiz ( 692889 )

      Sorry but I just can't live without my 16 channels of cheezy 90's spanish soap operas and multiple HSN clones :)

      Joking aside, OTA kind of is like that at least here in Phoenix. That said cable was no better, which is why I cut it and saved like $60/month, and haven't missed a damn thing.

      Thank god for PBS (the one broadcaster apprently not exclusively catering to inbred retards), and mythtv to help filter the rest of the crap.

    • >For some reason, people haven't cottoned on to the fact that HD content can be received over the air with an old pair of rabbit ears or a more modern $20 antenna.

      If that's your only source of TV, you're missing all of the good channels. It's pretty rare for the best shows to be on network TV, and even in 2014, movies are still edited for television so the ignorant conservatives won't freak out at seeing or hearing anything related to sex.
      • Why pay for TV when you can download the shows you care about?

        TV is so terrible at catering to people who only want to pay for what they want to see, so you may as well get it when you want how you want - because they refuse to provide that.

        • by Jawnn ( 445279 )

          Why pay for TV when you can download the shows you care about?

          Really? And where can I do this? Most of the "shows that I care about" are completely unavailable via the medium you're suggesting.

      • Well, seeing as I'm in Canada, the editing restrictions are different. And in Quebec, when I watch the french version of a movie, there's not much at all that gets cut. Certainly the language isn't cleaned up. Nor nudity. I guess it's a french thing.
    • Yeah, but I have one of those $20 antennas and it sucks. It clips out or freezes every couple of minutes if the signal is stronger. Every 10 seconds if the signal is weak. I'm not in the middle of nowhere. I am in a city, 15 min bike ride from downtown.It's basically impossible to watch.

      Add in the fact that it's about 1/3 commercials (with some exceptions, like PBS) and I just can't do it. I literally have not seen a TV commercial since I was at my parents house last Christmas. It also ties me to watch
      • In my experience, the difference between a bad signal and a great signal is sometimes less than 10' in terms of antenna positioning. That being said, not all antennas are equal. I'm using a $70 outdoor antenna zip-tied to the balcony. It works for me, but YMMV.
    • For some reason, people haven't cottoned on to the fact that HD content can be received over the air with an old pair of rabbit ears or a more modern $20 antenna.

      In this border town, there were about five or six high-powered VHF stations that could be reliably received with a good roof mounted antenna. For digital, which is all or nothing, $100-$120 for the antenna would be a good starting point, plus labor, if you are not comfortable with high ladder work or pounding in a grounding stake.

    • by antdude ( 79039 )

      I wished I could do OTA again in my new place, but the transmitters are blocked by small mountains/giant hills and trees. :(

  • Fuck analytics ... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I'm increasingly of the opinion that anybody who works for an analytics agency or a spy agency has more less forfeited their right to privacy.

    So start publishing their personal information on the internet, let these assholes know how it feels.

    Assholes in marketing don't deserve any more privacy than they are willing to give us.

    There's no way they'll either competently anonymize data, and no way they won't exploit the stuff which hasn't been cleaned up.

    So the address of your kids school seems like a fair tra

  • by sexconker ( 1179573 ) on Tuesday October 21, 2014 @11:28AM (#48196429)

    If I could delete 3 things from all existence they would be:

    3: Professional sports
    2: Fatties
    1: Advertising

    The amount of time and money the world wastes on these 3 useless things is extraordinary.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The information learned will help broadcasters decide what to charge advertisers, and deliver targeted ads to viewers.

      I've been streaming Netflix for years, and I've never seen an ad on it. What is this talking about?

    • If I could delete 3 things from all existence they would be: blah, blah, blah.

      Let me introduce you to the words "gainful employment." There are very few ways of earning a living that do not require advertising your product or service.

      • From my point of view, there are two problems. The biggest one isn't the ads themselves, but the tracking that is used with them. That needs to die a fast, painful death. The other problem, which is about the ads themselves, is that advertising is ubiquitous. When you can't even take a piss in many public restrooms without having to look at another damned ad, it's no mystery why people want to see advertising itself die.

    • I have 3 more for you:
      1. Facebook
      2. Twitter
      3. Apple, Microsoft Haters

      FYI. Ads pay for this site to remain available to us.

    • If I could delete 3 things from all existence they would be:

      How about Flash? Isn't that how we ended up with "analytics provider Adobe"?

      • If I could delete 3 things from all existence they would be:

        How about Flash? Isn't that how we ended up with "analytics provider Adobe"?

        No, you can thank PDFs and Adobe Reader for that.
        Flash is at least a useful tool.

    • 2: Fatties

      If you want me to lose weight, give me a steady supply of uppers. Otherwise, you're part of the problem and not the solution and you can fuck off.

  • by enjar ( 249223 ) on Tuesday October 21, 2014 @11:32AM (#48196467) Homepage

    Up till now, the TV Nielsens have been ruling the roost when it comes to how many people are watching something. Now with tracking added that includes online content on something of an equal basis, the real TV customers (the people who pay for ads) will know what the product (the viewers being shown advertising) is actually doing. This being Slashdot, people are no doubt running to the store to pay for a roll of tinfoil with a Bitcoin, but it's really not the Orwellian nightmare that you might expect. Imagine if there had been this richness of data for some shows like Firefly that were floundering in the TV ratings, yet were developing a following based on online views -- the audience was following the new episodes, but lagging the broadcast by a few months as they caught up.

    I expect that many shows which got mishandled on broadcast yet had some redeeming value and a loyal (young, target demographic market) who aren't showing up on TV lists (because they don't own one) are going to now be more represented -- and that's going to lead to better programming for the people who like that. Perhaps the "sit in front of the TV" market will be eclipsed by the "sit in front of the tablet/smartphone" market as that becomes the way people consume television.

    It might also clearly show what many of the cable providers keep denying but don't want to admit -- there's a tremendous market for (effectively) a la carte television that's being consumed right now. They can keep denying it, but it's going to be very hard for them to have leverage in deals with (especially) sports leagues when the Nielsen numbers show that it would be a great business decision to provide an app rather than going through cable to reach a larger audience who is young, hip and spends money.

    • Never underestimate the powers of a manager who comes in and decides that the numbers should show X and that any numbers that don't need to be skewed until they do.

      Some of their past tactics (such as the one taken against Futurama of moving the timeslot and then preempting the program until viewership numbers dropped) won't work in the new order of on-demand video, but they could take other actions. They could just not promote the show/new episodes. They could also delay releasing the new episodes until p

      • by tlhIngan ( 30335 ) <slashdot AT worf DOT net> on Tuesday October 21, 2014 @12:15PM (#48196881)

        I don't mind analytics in general, but don't assume that they will help rescue your favorite show by proving that there is a big following. Managers will just slice and dice the analytics until it "proves" that the show doesn't have a big enough viewership to continue.

        Even worse, it doesn't matter if 10,000,000 watch a show.

        The Neilson numbers come in several forms. The ones you see daily are called "Live and Same Day" (L+SD), which counts views that watched the show live and within 24 hours of airing. Other numbers you can easily find are Live+3 days (L+3) and Live+7 (L+7).

        But none of those numbers are actually used by anyone. That's why Neilson gives them out for free. No one's paying for that information, nor will they ever. And that's not where they make their money.

        The real money is in the C3 number, or if you're CBS, you convinced advertisers to take C7 numbers. What are these? They're commercial ratings (for programming watched live to 3 days later). Basically you take the L3/L7 numbers, strip out the numbers while the program is showing, and you're left with just the numbers related to the advertising. And that's the number that makes Neilson money and the number stations pay money for. And yes, you skip ads on your DVR, which pull down those C3 numbers because it lowers the viewers for the advertising.

        And that's because the largest source of income is advertising. Sure they get some through cable fees and Hulu and iTunes/Amazon/DVD etc. sales, but that's a tiny fraction of advertising.

        CBS managed this season to convince advertisers to pay the C7 rate rather than C3, because well, it more accurately reflects today's lifestyle of people who record a show and watch it later in the week.

        And that's all that matters. It doesn't matter if you can find 100,000,000 people to watch a show - if it's not reflected in those 100,000,000 people watching the ads.

        It also brings up cord cutters who prefer to download their TV programming from torrents and such - as far as the industry is concerned, they don't care because those people don't add to advertising ratings.

        Even under the new system - the new system just means that Neilson can more accurately measure their ratings, but if you're not watching the ads, it means jack squat to the producers.

        So that super popular show people pirate? Guess what, the TV industry really doesn't care - you never were a "customer" and it doesn't matter if only 1M people watched it on TV while 100M people watched it off torrents - if those 1M people can't justify the ad rates and production costs, it's getting canned. The 100M other people? Too f'in bad - if it was that good, they should've watched it with ads.

        If you ever wondered why worrying over TV piracy has subsided, that's one reason (who cares about pirates - they obviously don't care about their TV show), the other is they've found legal streaming to be even better. Because if they put a stream online to watch programming, they can make it such that you can't skip ads, and that's actually worth something - enough to pay for the effort of putting an online stream up. So you beat both DVR owners and appear as a hero for making a legal source available.

        Bonus material - 2014-2015 TV season ad rates (30 second spot). This is what brings in the money.
        http://variety.com/2014/tv/new... [variety.com]

        • Ironically isn't CBS the one that just launched the streaming service that you pay for, and still shows you ads?

        • if you're not watching the ads, it means jack squat to the producers.

          The producers of the show only care tiny bit about advertising, as they get their pay up front (a TV channel/network pays them to produce the content) and from various forms of direct sales (DVD, Hulu, Amazon, etc.). Because much of the value of a show has moved from the first-run airing, networks now partner with producers to produce the show, so that the network also gets a cut of the direct sales.

          So, producers care a little bit about ratings and advertising, because if nobody is watching their show, the

        • by sinij ( 911942 )
          I realize that it is all about advertising, but where do these outrageous cable fees go? If it is all about advertising, why do cable providers charge substantial fees for channel packages? Clearly, you can show more adds if you let everyone with a cable watch it.

          So it must be not that simple.
        • by antdude ( 79039 )

          I am curious how many people watch the commercials. Is there a Nielsen (not Neilson!) for those?

    • people are no doubt running to the store to pay for a roll of tinfoil with a Bitcoin, but it's really not the Orwellian nightmare that you might expect.

      Wait a second. You can't call people who object to tracking paranoid because the tracking is provably being done. Why do you think people who object to being spied on are somehow nutty for objecting to it?

  • Terminology (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JustNiz ( 692889 ) on Tuesday October 21, 2014 @11:32AM (#48196469)

    As a cable-cutter who primarily gets video as OTA HDTV I for one was confused (for a second) by their use of the term "Digital Video".

    What might have been better would be to call it "streaming video" or some such, to better indicate that the article is actually web-specific only.

    Also, the "digital" part is pretty much redundant these days anyway, as there is no analog TV anymore (except maybe a few holdouts on cable), so pretty much all video is now digital. Saying "digital video" has basically become analogous to saying "electric TV".

  • for example if you begin watching a show on Netflix on your laptop, then switch to a Roku set-top box to finish it

    I don't get this.
    When I'm watching something I enjoy, either via OTA HD or Netflix, the last thing I'm going to do is "quick! switch to another device!"

    Watching a film, documentary or "episode" is much more enjoyable watched in one sitting. If I have to switch to another device I will watch at a later time when my attention isn't split.

    This splitting of attention ruins the experience.

    • by jedidiah ( 1196 )

      Life tends to interrupt entertainment.

      One of the great advantages of current video technology is the fact that you aren't shackled to the idiots lantern. You can watch stuff whenever you want, rather than when they say it will be on. You can watch as much or as little as you want in one sitting depending on things that aren't TV.

      A "networked" playback device is especially useful for serialized content and modern households that have more than one playback device.

      The "gap" could be one minute or 6 months and

    • I have an Xbox360 in my living room that I use for Netflix/Hulu/Plex (and video games). In my bedroom I have an Xbox One and an AppleTV. Sometimes I'll start watching on the 360 in the living room and then decide to finish watching in the bedroom on one of the other devices.

    • I don't get this.

      When I'm watching something I enjoy, either via OTA HD or Netflix, the last thing I'm going to do is "quick! switch to another device!"

      Watching a film, documentary or "episode" is much more enjoyable watched in one sitting. If I have to switch to another device I will watch at a later time when my attention isn't split.

      Hm....you never watch a movie and have to go to the can?

      :)

  • by Rick Zeman ( 15628 ) on Tuesday October 21, 2014 @11:40AM (#48196573)

    Adobe's Analytics service, gained through its acquisition of Omniture, let it track how consumers view digital media across devices through digital cookies and mobile advertising IDs.

    Ghostery, I love you.

  • by pushing-robot ( 1037830 ) on Tuesday October 21, 2014 @11:42AM (#48196593)

    Now when I watch a thing, I'll get ads telling me to watch the thing I watched.

    • by SeaFox ( 739806 )

      Yo Dawg!

      We head you like TV!

      So we're watching what you watch, and putting targeted ads in your selected programs.
      So now you can be told to watch what you're watching, while you're watching it.
      We've seen what you've seen and will see to it you see it again. See?

  • by serviscope_minor ( 664417 ) on Tuesday October 21, 2014 @12:10PM (#48196833) Journal

    TPB isn't just cheaper than other services it's better. In fact that's the main thing. Advantages of TPB:

    * No Ads during the show (though I have to concede that impossibly proportioned women do appear to want to date my testicles).
    * Huge library including some obscure stuff you can't buy.
    * Great search.
    * All shows in one place.
    * No DRM: watch on any device you like, laptop, phone, random set top box.
    * No streaming bullshit. Works online or off, on a flakey connection or a good one.
    * Variety of different resolutions and qualities allowing you to trade off quality and download speed.
    * Great clients for managing multiple downloads.
    * Really great options for viewing the media. MPlayer I love you.
    * Timely: the shows are usually online very fast. No waiting years for it to arrive legally. Yes that still happens.
    * No ausive region coding (see no DRM). Yes I own those discs legally. No I'm not going to pay to buy another DVD player just to satisfy some abusive jerkweeds who think I'm some sort of crook for having lived abroad.
    * No net connection required to watch the shows once acquired.

    And now:

    * Doesn't creepily track you.

    It's amazing how much better a service you get while sailing the seven seas and looting the merchentmen, arr, matey.

    • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

      TPB? No thanks.

      eztv.it is where it's at. TPB is crap for searching and subscribing to specific shows and having a nice RSS feed filtered already for you.

    • * Doesn't creepily track you.

      You're more easily tracked via BitTorrent than any other medium.

      Well, it's technically tracking downloads and uploads, not necessarily viewing behavior, so maybe that's an advantage.

  • I like most people, prefer my constitutionally guaranteed right to Privacy, and Freedom, to Slavery.

  • ...with my CRT TV and converter box, plugged into an antenna.

    Twice this year we've done the Nielsen week-long rating. Our TV viewing comprised 15 minutes of the noon news, and an hour of "Mr. Selfridge", "Downton Abbey" or "Call the Midwife" on PBS. I think they sent it to us again to see if we were lying. Nope. We don't have cable; we pay to have trash hauled out, so why pay to have it delivered?

    "57 channels and Nuthin On."

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