LAS VEGAS — It was billed as a first, and a successful one at that. In October, Yahoo broadcast its first ever live stream of an NFL football game, the one  between the Jacksonville Jaguars and Buffalo Bills from London.

After the final whistle, Yahoo claimed to have broken ground by attracting 15m viewers. That would have made the game almost as popular as a regular NFL game on main television.

But the claim has riled traditional media measurers in a debate that crystallizes the uncertainty over how to effectively assess audiences across online and traditional TV broadcasts.

“That was well-intentioned but those were the wrong metrics,” Nielsen US media president Lynda Clarizio tells Beet.TV in this video interview. “It was comparing apples to oranges.

“Contrast it to an NFL game on television – per the Nielsen ratings, an average NFL telecast has a Nielsen rating of 18m.

The Yahoo number was a reach or (total) unique audience number; the Nielsen rating, the GRP, is derivation of the audience in an average minute, as opposed to unique audience going in quickly and out of a game.

“An average NFL game has a reach of about 45m. That was the right comparison. If you translate both of them to the average minute, the Yahoo game did about 1.5m compared with 18m.”

Advertisers increasingly want to be able to buy moving-image ads across platforms, whether it slots in to an in-stream pre-roll, a prime-time TV show or a Facebook newsfeed video.

Clarizio acknowledges the quest for “a common language between television and digital video so that buyers and sellers and the industry can have the same metrics when they’re looking at viewership”.

But claims like Yahoo’s show divergent metrics are “still confusing”, “it’s not serving the industry well”, she says.


This video is part of a series of interviews about the transformation of television produced at CES and sponsored by SpotX.