A report from Nielsen Analytics says that television programmers and advertisers are finding new and more lucrative advertising opportunities with broadband video. Their research suggests that the use of broadband actually extends rather than erodes the reach of traditional television.

“By researching controlled broadband access, this study concludes that programmers have the opportunity to create new revenue models to benefit content owners and their affiliated stations,” said Larry Gerbrandt, general manager and senior vice president of Nielsen Analytics.

“Such ad-supported models are uniquely adaptable to broadband and are potentially superior to existing models because they can take full advantage of the digital environment. With broadband streams, for example, fast forwarding through commercials can be disabled making it more likely the consumers will watch the spots and possibly interact with them.”

Nielsen says that despite growing numbers of prime time television shows being streamed on network web sites, or the increasing popularity of user generated content, there has been no measurable negative impact on traditional television viewing.

Total television usage was at a record high in households in the United States in the 2005-2006 season at just under eight and a quarter hours a day, according to Nielsen Media Research. The company says that household viewing has risen more than an hour a day over the past decade which is half an hour more per person.

It might be observed that measuring television viewing has always been an inexact statistical science and the definition of viewing is simply being in the same room as a television which is on. While other digital media are theoretically more accountable, obtaining a holistic view of user behaviour remains a challenge. Nielsen also tracks internet usage through Nielsen//NetRatings to attempt to deliver a whole media perspective.

“Advertisers and programmers using broadband have a unique advantage in the increasingly competitive advertising world,” continued Gerbrandt. “Ad models can be customised and managed in a broadband environment and interactivity can be embedded into the programme in such a way as to enhance engagement which does not take viewers away from the enjoyment of the programme.”

The report concludes that “there is a general consensus that viewers prefer short web-served ads, though the market is split between 15-second and 30-second pre-rolls per program segment.” It also argues that as broadband video offers levels of interactivity and viewer engagement not possible in a traditional television spot there is a case for charging advertisers more.

Such messages must offer some comfort to those in the traditional television and advertising business, as is news that those with a broadband connection are more likely to be more highly educated, more affluent, and aged 35-54.

The research into broadband consumers was conducted by Scarborough Research, a joint venture between Arbitron and Nielsen.

Whatever, Whenever, Wherever: How broadband is redefining the economics of television is published by Nielsen and available for purchase from their web site.