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An ad for Viacom's Pluto TV service on a New York subway wall earlier this year. Photo by AP

To Draw Advertisers, Video Services Need to Agree on Audience Measures

By  |  Dec. 10, 2019 10:02 AM PST
Photo: An ad for Viacom's Pluto TV service on a New York subway wall earlier this year. Photo by AP

Spare a thought for advertisers contemplating buying commercial time on one of the wide array of free, ad-supported video services, ranging from giants like YouTube and Hulu to smaller outlets like Pluto TV and Tubi TV. Right now, there’s almost no way an advertiser can compare how many people watch all these services, as the viewership metrics used for many vary.

Nielsen, the TV ratings firm, measures the audience for some services, such as Roku, Hulu and YouTube. But for YouTube, it only counts people watching the Google-owned service on computers and mobile apps but not those watching on internet-connected TVs. For Roku and Hulu, it does count internet-connected TVs. And Nielsen doesn’t measure smaller outlets—like Viacom-owned Pluto or Tubi, backed by MGM and Lionsgate—at all. 

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