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College try: Nielsen will measure dorm viewing

Parents already know full well how much they spend on their kids' college educations. Now they can get a feel for how much time the recipients spend watching TV.

Effective immediately, Nielsen Media Research's "Extended Home Viewing" initiative will include home away from home viewing at higher education hovels known as dorms. Sorority and fraternity houses and off-campus student apartment buildings also have been wired. Nielsen says its People Meters now will be part of the decor in scientifically selected universities, trade schools and even culinary institutes.

A three-year "pilot program" measuring college student viewing had been sponsored by several Nielsen clients, including MTV, The WB, Fox, CBS and ESPN. Data compiled from the November "sweeps" shows a "significant impact" on the performance of some programs, Nielsen says.

Testing off the charts is ABC's Grey's Anatomy, which jumped its audience by 53 percent among 18-to-24-year-old women. According to Nielsen, Grey's had an 8.6 rating (1,188,000 viewers) in the traditional TV universe. But the college student measurements added an extra 636,000 viewers, increasing Grey's total haul to 1,824,000 viewers.

Syndicated episodes of Friends and ABC's Desperate Housewives also scored well with 18-to-24-year-old women. Males in that age group had more basic instincts. Nielsen says Comedy Central's animated series Drawn Together recorded the biggest percentage jump, up from 272,000 to 435,000 viewers.

Guys also boosted the fortunes of NBC's Sunday night football games, Fox's Family Guy and The Simpsons and TNT's Big Picture movies.