The trade group’s chairman, Bill Fine, says the TV broadcasters have put up with inaccurate numbers and unchanging sample sizes for too long. “We have hit a tipping point, a point where it is clear a major change is necessary. I know you have heard that from others many times before, but I’m serious. It is time for a reset.”
Fine Throws Down Gauntlet Over Ratings
TVB Chairman Bill Fine today called on his fellow broadcasters to demand better audience measurement, saying TVB is doing its bit by determining the minimum acceptable audience sample.
“We have hit a tipping point, a point where it is clear a major change is necessary,” he said at the TVB Forward conference in New York. “I know you have heard that from others many times before, but I’m serious.”
Fine’s target was clearly Nielsen, the well-established, but oft-maligned purveyor of TV ratings. It dominants the business, but is fending off an upstart rival, Rentrak.
“Why has the LPM same size stayed the same for 12 years in Boston and other major markets?” asked Fine, who is general manager of Hearst Television’s WCVB Boston. “Why are hashtags and zero cells acceptable? Why don’t we, as an industry, demand better outcomes and develop a plan to actually achieve them?”
Fine presented slides that showed that the sample size for the Nielsen Local People Meter service in Boston is stuck at the same number (600 homes) as it was in 2002 when the service was launched. “How can that be?” he asked.
Fine said that it is not TVB’s job to say which of the two rival services — Nielsen and Rentrak — is best. But what the trade group can do, and is doing, is determining adequate sample sizes and margins of error.
“A quality sample is imperative; the sample size must dramatically increase; and the margin of error should be cut to — minimally —under 10%, and preferably less than 5%.,” he said, noting that TVB would share its findings with the Media Rating Council. (Note: The original posting incorrectly said TVB would share its findings with the Council for Research Excellence.)
“The goal is accurate measurement, which is valid, reliable and effective. Although not an easy task, it is something, I believe, everyone in the room can agree is absolutely necessary. It is time for a reset.
“Consider this TVB’s verbal RFP to Nielsen, Rentrak or anyone else who wants local television’s measurement business in the future.”
Read other stories from the TVB Forward conference here.