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KTSF Joins TV Stations Getting a Fix on Growing Mobile Audience

Smartphone and tablet viewers will be counted toward the station's TV ratings later this year.

Broadcaster KTSF knows that viewers in the San Francisco Bay Area watch its local news and Asian-language programming on their smartphones and tablets.

Now, the station is taking steps to quantify the size of the audience watching its TV shows on other screens. KTSF has incorporated Nielsen’s mobile measurement technology in its Apple iOS app to obtain independent, third-party reporting of viewership. A version for Android phones is expected in the coming weeks.

Smartphone and tablet viewers will be counted toward the station’s TV ratings later this year.

“We’re seeing a real shift in habits,” said KTSF General Manager Michael Sherman. “Hopefully, with this Nielsen functionality, we can describe what that is.”

KTSF is a logical early adopter of Nielsen’s mobile technology, in part because its audience tends to be avid technology adopters.

Smartphone penetration among Asian-Americans is among the highest of any racial or ethnic group in the U.S. — at 78 percent, Nielsen found. These viewers gravitate readily to new forms of distribution, spending more time than the overall U.S. population watching Internet videos, viewing movies on their laptops, tablets or smartphones, and streaming TV content, according to the researcher.

In the Bay Area, tablet ownership is skyrocketing. Nielsen found that more than half of households there have a tablet — and that number has been growing.

“A TV station like KTSF has been fairly aggressive in getting its content to this screen,” said Nielsen Senior Vice President Farshad Family. “Now, we’re able to provide independent, third-party measurement of what’s happening on that screen.”

KTSF began offering its broadcasts on mobile devices about two years ago, providing live and on-demand access to news programs, which are available in Cantonese and Mandarin, as well as to shows in other languages, including Japanese, Korean and Filipino.

“[Nielsen] will add a new piece to the puzzle, which is who’s watching,” said Sherman — noting that the firm will provide both audience demographics, as well as detailed data about which shows are being viewed.

The station uses Internet TV technology developed by Syncbak, a broadcast-industry-backed alternative to Aereo. The U.S. Supreme Court could issue a decision as soon as this week in the copyright infringement case the networks brought against Aereo.

Local affiliates use Syncbak to deliver local news, sports and weather within their regions. The networks offer mobile access to prime-time shows via their own dedicated apps.

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