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Nielsen TV ratings will include smartphone and tablet viewing next year, says report

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Time Warner Cable iPad App icon
Time Warner Cable iPad App icon

The venerable Nielsen TV ratings are finally starting to get up-to-date with the internet age. Starting in September 2014, Nielsen will reportedly include TV viewing on a smartphone or tablet as part of its national TV rankings. According to Variety, Nielsen will announce the move next week, marking the end of a three-year attempt to build a ranking that measures consistently across TVs and digital devices. From the sound of things, Nielsen's updated TV rankings will only measure "linear" viewing — that is, viewing that takes place at the same time as a show is being broadcast on TV. So, catching a show the next day on Hulu wouldn't count towards this ranking. Presumably, apps from networks like NBC and ABC will be included in these rankings, as would services like Slingbox or Aereo or apps from cable companies like Time Warner Cable — but Nielsen hasn't said exactly what its methodology will be just yet.

It's the latest example of Nielsen looking to modernize its long-running TV rankings product — earlier this year, the company announced that it would start including households that receive TV from a set-top box in its definition of a "television home." Nielsen is rolling out updated hardware and software to 23,000 American homes where it gets TV-watching data this month to account for this change, but it'll be another year before smartphone and tablet TV viewing will get added into its ratings.