Nielsen Pushes Back Code Reader Rollout

The ratings firm says it’s moving the introduction of its new system that would replace paper diaries from Oct. 1 to January following "significant feedback" from clients concerned about the so-called “viewer assignment” methodology the new system is using to derive demographic data for stations in smaller markets from larger local people-meter markets, some located far away.

The introduction of a new Nielsen measurement system designed to replace paper diaries is now being delayed from the hoped-for start date of Oct. 1 to January 2016, TVNewsCheck learned today.

Nielsen informed client stations of the decision to delay on Wednesday afternoon. Nielsen did not immediately confirm the decision and the notifications, but they were both corroborated by multiple sources at stations and station groups.

“On Aug. 3, we informed you we would implement our local market ratings enhancements on Oct. 1,” said the Nielsen notification, which was obtained by TVNewsCheck. “Many of our clients have noted that they need more time to review the Impact Data that we have shared. After significant feedback from our clients, we are moving the implementation date to Dec. 31, the start of the January measurement period. This extension will allow for additional analysis time and will also align with the start of our National Panel Expansion efforts and the new year,” Nielsen said.

Indeed, station managers, owners and the Media Rating Council (MRC) have all expressed concerns about the so-called “viewer assignment” methodology the new system is using to derive demographic data for stations in smaller markets from larger local people-meter (LPM) markets, some located far away.

Under the new system, the demo data is combined with viewing data collected from passive electronic meters — set meters in some markets and, at least initially, newly developed “code readers” in 14 other markets.

As TVNewsCheck reported on Wednesday morning, Nielsen clients — including station groups including Meredith and Raycom — have been asking Nielsen to explain the “viewer-assignment” method more fully because a number of stations are experiencing ratings shortfalls and “variabilities” in test data produced under the new system that they don’t understand.

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While it wasn’t mentioned in the Nielsen notification, the delay could also be due to a pending decision from the MRC whether to accredit the new measuring system. The MRC had intended to inform Nielsen of its decision in late September.


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