Data put out by Nielsen for what it calls “linear viewing” — which counts number of people who watch a program the day it airs — has been on a steady decline across broadcast and many cable networks in recent years, reports the Los Angeles Times, which, in part, added:

“It has led to frequent headlines that the streaming services such as Netflix are eating traditional TV’s lunch, especially among younger viewers.

“Network and advertising executives have groused that linear viewing numbers no longer reflect the true popularity of their programs, which are increasingly viewed on a delayed basis, through video on demand, streaming or DVR playback.

“That was a topic of conversation throughout the week at the Television Critics Assn. press tour in Beverly Hills.

““I don’t think the broadcasting narrative should be linear versus digital anymore, but rather linear plus digital,” NBC Entertainment Chairman Bob Greenblatt said during a panel. “I would love to get to a point where the live, same-day rating was the proverbial dinosaur instead of the broadcast network.”

“Executives from New York-based Nielsen, who appeared Friday at the press tour, acknowledged as much. They said they have answered the call by networks and ad agencies to provide “total audience data” that includes viewing on Internet-connected TV sets, digital devices and on screens seen outside the home.

“Nielsen is really thought of as tracking linear television,” said Brian Fuhrer, senior vice president of product leadership for Nielsen. “The fact of the matter is we spend a lot of time with our clients looking at everything beyond traditional TV.”

“But much of the content streaming viewers watch is created by the networks and their production studios.

“The Nielsen executives shared a sample of some of the proprietary ratings it provides to clients on delayed viewing. The data support the networks’ contention that their content is being consumed by far more people than the initial ratings numbers indicate.”

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