That would be counting households with some sort of broadband connection to their televisions - or in the industry nomenclature, "any home with a TV that can receive video via an external source." This includes people who have cut the cable cord entirely - as well as folks who have cable and a broadband conduit for Hulu and other ad-sponsored sites. The networks have been after Nielsen to add these viewers, who are being lost in the traditional measuring methods. And lost viewers mean lower ad rates. So far this season all the networks have reported audience declines. Not included in Nielsen's counting are ad-free streaming from sites like Amazon and Netflix, although the research company will be able to tell when viewers are watching those video outlets. Also not covered are smart phones or tablets, at least not for now. The trick is identifying all eyeballs, but it'll be a while before that happens. The additional coverage begins in September. From the WSJ:
It isn't clear how much the new measurement tool will help networks boost their ad revenues. Networks will have to make sure they insert the same ads and same number of ads across different outlets. But networks typically air a different lineup of commercials on the online broadcast of a show from the TV broadcast. "The hope is that at some stage commercial identification technology will be such that that will no longer be an issue," said David Poltrack, chief research officer at CBS. He called the new technology a "first step to capture all forms of traditional TV content from non-traditional ways," but warned it won't have any "immediate impact."