The industry group that represents major television networks is calling on the nonprofit Media Rating Council to strip Nielsen’s accreditation in an unprecedented escalation of a months-long feud centered on the accuracy of Nielsen ratings. On Wednesday morning, the Video Advertising Bureau, which counts A+E Networks, Disney, Fox, NBCUniversal and ViacomCBS (among others) as members, delivered a letter to the MRC demanding that it suspend its accreditation of Nielsen’s national ratings service due to the measurement firm’s handling of its in-home panel. That panel, which serves as the backbone of Nielsen’s television measurement products, has been cast into doubt since at least March 2020.
Networks and distributors represented by the VAB, after complaining that Nielsen under-reported TV usage during the pandemic, said that reported TV usage has turned up noticeably since Nielsen resumed at-home servicing of its sample homes.
Nielsen said Friday it will not submit to an audit of its COVID-era ratings measurements, rejecting a request from TV networks who believe their ratings have been undercounted during the pandemic.
CBS, ABC, NBC and other TV networks want the company that audits their audiences every day to submit to an audit of its own. The Video Advertising Bureau, an industry group that represents the TV networks to Madison Avenue, is demanding that Nielsen, the arbiter of TV ratings, submit to a third-party audit from Ernst & Young, the latest salvo in a battle between to the two sides over how TV audiences were counted during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Video Advertising Bureau claims “systematic under-counting” as Nielsen lost 20% of its panelists it uses to measure TV usage during the pandemic.
Forty TV ad-sales executives gathered Friday to consider the possibility of adding yet another yardstick to a growing pile of measurement plans being considered by TV networks and Madison Avenue in an era when audiences for programs ranging from The Walking Dead to Law & Order SVU are increasingly difficult to count.
Addressable TV advertising looks to more than double its current revenue in two years. The Video Advertising Bureau estimates that total addressable TV advertising revenue will climb to $2.2 billion — covering 74% of U.S. TV homes by 2018.
Although traditional TV viewing — live and DVR use — has slipped to some extent over recent years, it is still the dominant way that viewers consume video. In the first quarter of this year, consumers 18-plus spent on average 35 hours and 26 minutes weekly with traditional TV (live and DVR), according to new research from the Video Advertising Bureau.
Around 75% percent of broadcast and cable networks will use Nielsen’s C7 metric as their primary currency for this year’s upfront deals, according to a new survey from the Video Advertising Bureau. That represents a shift from the C3 standard that has been in place since the metrics were adopted in 2006, says Sean Cunningham, VAB’s president-CEO.
As Nielsen prepares to make the biggest changes to its national TV ratings methods since it introduced the people meter in 1987, some of its biggest customers — broadcast and cable networks — held a vote to determine whether they should put pressure on Nielsen to delay the move past this fall when it is scheduled to start. The vote failed to reach a consensus so they will continue monitoring the situation as the new ratings begin to impact the marketplace.
CBS, NBC, the CW and ABC have joined a trade group once devoted to promoting cable TV to Madison Avenue. As such, the Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau, which has for years played a large role in touting cable TV’s ability to deliver ad messages effectively to marketers, will now be known as the Video Advertising Bureau.