TV Rating Giant Nielsen Wants To Include Online Viewing

From a press release from the Nielsen folks:

At Nielsen, OnDemand Online and TV Everywhere are examples of what we refer to as the “Extended Screen” — initiatives that treat the computer as another screen in the home used to watch television. In fact, we’re already working to capture television viewing that takes place online and to add that viewing back in to the ratings. That includes in our National C3 ratings.

Wow, that sounds vaguely megalomaniacal.  They just sort of DECLARE the computer “another screen” and make it fall under their bailiwick?  But it’s the how of the whole thing that’ll start raising your hackles–they basically want to put spyware on your computer.

Nielsen calls it their “Anytime Anywhere Media Measurement” program, and to support it, they’ve developed an internet software meter that they install with their so-called Nielsen families.

Frankly, I remember when Neilsen sent you five bucks in an envelope and a booklet to fill out with your television viewing.  Now they want to hook up meters to monitor your Internet usage?  When did they turn into the Chinese government?  While on the one hand, I can see a definite value in knowing exactly how many people use a site (it’d wind up being “ratings” by which the prices for advertising are established) it also sound spectacularly invasive.  And that’s never a good thing.