Many of the Cable Providers are now working with the Nielsen Company,and even selling your "anonymous data" to them.
So yes, whether its Digital Cable, Satellite TV, or TIVO recordings, it's all sending data back to the provider. Some companies allows you to "opt-out", but most people do not read the contracts and just initial here and there just to get it over with.
See the following links:
Charter to sell L.A. TV viewing data
Charter Communications Inc. said Wednesday that it would sell information it collects about the viewing preferences of 330,000 of its cable TV customers in the Los Angeles area.
TiVo Joins With TRA to Provide First of its Kind Audience Research Product
TiVo's Stop||Watch™ ratings service, introduced in February 2007, is offered via an easily sortable database of ratings for nationally run programs and advertisements from cable and broadcast networks, with data going back to September 2006. The data is derived from a daily, aggregate, anonymous, stratified random sample of 20,000 TiVo units
Time Warner Signs New Multi-Year Agreement with Nielsen
7 Year Contract Includes Nielsen TV, Internet and Mobile Services
Nielsen Reorganizes Digital Team As Part Of Major Push To Integrate Set-Top Data
Nielsen executives emphasize that digital set-top data likely will be a complement to, not a replacement for, Nielsen's panel-based measurement systems, which are acknowledged as a trading currency for TV advertising buys.
*** Digital Set-top data *** Set-top refers to the black box in your living room. Which collects 'anonymous' data on your viewing habits.
Nielsen, cable to team? Cable operators work with the ratings service to track digital-cable..
The nation's largest cable operators are talking to Nielsen Media Research company about creating a new audience measuring system based on the sophisticated new technology in today's digital-cable set-tops.
Just because you are not with Nielsen doesn't mean your Cable provider isn't.