I emailed a very nice gentleman at ABC and asked:
“Hello Jeffrey, I host the Once Upon a Time Fan Podcast and I had a question about rating numbers for OUAT. When the press releases viewing numbers, is it just the numbers of persons being tracked watching the episode live on Sunday night, or does it include DVR recordings as well? Do viewing numbers also figure in episode views on ABC.com or Hulu.com at some point as well? Thanks for you input on this. I really appreciate it. Jeff Roney”
“Hi Jeff – The numbers released the next day (Nielsen’s Live + Same Day Ratings) do include DVR TV viewing from the live telecast that night up until 3am that morning. Then after approximately 2 weeks, all DVR viewing for the 7 period (Live + 7 Day Ratings) following the initial telecast become available from Nielsen.
Nielsen does not currently incorporate online viewing into its television ratings, so numbers from ABC.com and Hulu are not included.
Hopefully that answers your questions.
It it so cool that ABC does care enough to answer questions and keep communication with fans open. That is great.