Nielsen Schmielsen

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The venerable Nielsen Media Research company has embarked on its first tenuous prod into how iPod users consume video in iTunes and on the iPod. According to a story by Andrew Wallenstein (via Reuters):

Among the findings: Less than 1% of content items played by iPod users on either iTunes or the device itself were videos. Among video iPod users, that percentage barely improves, up to 2.2%.

Even measured by duration of consumption, where 30- or 60-minute TV shows might seem to have a built-in advantage over three-minute songs, video comprises just 2% of total time spent using iPods or iTunes among iPod owners. Video iPod users consume video 11% of the time.

The study also found that 15.8% of iPod users have played a video on either iPod or iTunes. About one-third of that group doesn’t own a video iPod.

As a one-time-Nielsen-household, I have some inside knowledge on how difficult it is for the company to gather accurate data. Given my survey form, lo those many years ago, what did I do? Lied, of course. For example, because I support the idea of the program rather than devoting the time necessary to watching the thing, PBS’ The News Hour With Jim Lehrer made the log every single day. And the trash that I actually watched? Not a mention. When the Day of Reckoning comes, I’d rather not have The Prosecutor place before me my now-faded survey and proclaim “You say you’ve lived an untarnished life, Mr. Breen, yet does this not claim— in your own hand —that when afforded the time to assist the less fortunate you instead spent hour after hour glued to Who’s The Boss ?!”

No, thank you.

But now that I’ve admitted my subterfuge—thus further jeopardizing the Immortal S —I would like to make amends to the Nielsens by offering the video diary of a seasoned iPod owner—me. It goes a little something like this:

Monday: After morning coffee, begin commute downstairs. Grab 80GB 5G iPod to watch latest The Daily Show With Jon Stewart. Before I can navigate to the video screen I arrive at office. Drat.

Tuesday: Just enough time between assignments to watch that Daily Show. Dang, where’s the 5G iPod? Grab iPod shuffle instead. What, no video!? Damn, this is going to be harder than I thought.

Wednesday: Cat stepped on the power strip switch behind the TiVo again. Missed out on the first episode of the latest Prime Suspect and TiVo can’t find any reruns. BitTorrent? Yep, there it is—and the Brits got it a month before we did! Hmm, how would Nielsen feel about me playing a pirated TV program on my iPod? Worse yet, after railing about the evils of piracy how hypocritical is that? Best not mention it…. Thursday: I swear, I have no idea how Girls Gone Naughty got on this iPod! This isn’t even my iPod! See, my iPod has a scratch, like, over here, and this iPod…. This one definitely does not count.

Friday: Doctor’s appointment. Finally a chance to watch a little video and kill some time in the waiting room. Got through a Daily Show as well as last night’s Colbert Report. Missed actually seeing the doctor cuz couldn’t hear repeated “Mr. Breen. Mr. Breen?” from nurse. Never doing that again.

So, let’s see, how’d I do?

Video watching attempts: 5

Complete videos watched: 4 for 5 hours

Videos that don’t count because, really, I have no idea how they got on my iPod or, honest, they never were on my iPod, I swear: 2 for 4 hours

Total countable videos watched: 2 for 1 hour

Total time watching videos on iPod/iTunes compared to using iPod/iTunes for other purposes: No flippin’ idea. I work at my desk all day and sometimes have iTunes play music in the background. I have a TV/TiVo/DVD player with more than enough content to keep me busy in my off hours. If I ever, you know, went outside and wasn’t driving or interacting with people and stuck on a plane for like a jillion hours maybe I’d spend more hours watching video on my computer or iPod but, ya know, I’ve got stuff to do and more appropriate alternatives. Does that make the iPod a failure as a video player? Maybe people watch just exactly as much video as is appropriate for a portable video device given that we consume video differently than we consume music. Ya thought of that, Nielsen? Huh, have you!?

By the way, put me down for another five hours of The News Hour .

This story, "Nielsen Schmielsen" was originally published by PCWorld.

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