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Nielsen to add Internet viewing to its TV ratings

The ratings service provides a software developer kit that will allow broadcasters to measure the number of viewers coming from digital devices.

Watching "Agents of SHIELD" via the iPad.
Watching "Agents of SHIELD" via the iPad. Screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET

TV shows watched through DVRs, Internet-connected TVs, and mobile devices will soon stand a better chance in Nielsen's TV ratings.

In a blog posted Monday, Nielsen said that it will offer its clients a software developer kit (SDK) in mid-November. The SDK will let broadcasters and other content providers include digital viewers in their TV show measurements. Based on certain criteria, TV shows will either be counted in the traditional Nielsen TV ratings or the company's Nielsen Digital Ratings.

"We've been working hard to deliver this new SDK and are excited to be able to deliver a single client solution that supports both the linear (TV style) and dynamic (Internet style) ad models," Megan Clarken, a Nielsen executive VP and global product leader, said in a statement. "This unified encoding approach for video enables measurement to follow content across screens and ad models."

The SDK will examine the watermarks and metadata associated with TV show content to determine the source. Nielsen said that it will also use the data gathered along with census-style measurements to get demographic stats from providers such as Facebook and feed that into its National People Meter panel.

TV shows live and die by how many people are watching and therefore viewing their advertisements. With so many people now getting their TV fix from the Internet, it's about time they were more easily incorporated into the always critical Nielsen ratings.