The ratings firm met last Friday with representatives of New York City stations to explain how it plans to improve the ratings by increasing the sample homes and perhaps deploying new PPM technology that make use of program audio to track what people are watching. The meeting followed concerns of the broadcasters that the June ratings were down 20% from the prior year in the key adults 25-54 demo.
Nielsen In Hot Water With NYC Broadcasters
Last Friday, Nielsen publicly acknowledged that its national TV ratings since March were flawed and that it would be reissuing the numbers at the same time as its arch-rival Rentrak was boasting of a big investment by WPP and watching its stock price soar.
That was just part of Nielsen’s terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.
Earlier in the day, at a meeting in New York, more than a dozen Nielsen executives tried to placate a large contingent of unhappy New York broadcasters who have been complaining about a sudden drop off in ratings in the No. 1 DMA last spring.
According to one broadcaster in attendance, in June the stations’ aggregate ratings fell around 20% over the prior year in the key adults 25-54 demo, a loss of 2,250 ratings points that is having a big impact on revenue.
Nielsen did not promise to reissue any numbers at the meeting, the broadcaster said, but talked about improving the ratings by increasing the sample homes and perhaps deploying new PPM technology that makes use of program audio to track what people are watching.
In response to questions about the meeting from TVNewsCheck, Nielsen issued a statement attributed to Matt O’Grady, Nielsen’s EVP and managing director of local media, among those at the meeting.
The statement acknowledges that Nielsen has had a “series of meetings” with New York broadcasters on what Nielsen is “doing to improve and expand our measurement capabilities for local media,” but it doesn’t address the broadcasters’ specific complaints about the spring ratings shortfall or what Nielsen might do about them.
“Capturing a representative measurement of how consumers are viewing video across all types of platforms is the No. 1 priority for Nielsen,” the statement says. “We are increasing our sample sizes and have announced 60 markets thus far — including New York — where we are adding tablet and smartphone viewing of local TV content to the ratings, and actively evaluating big data sources to add greater stability.
“We are also testing the inclusion of out-of-home viewing, and more granular qualitative data to the mix. The viewing pie is expanding and our goal is to ensure that the ratings pie grows, as well.”
In addition to O’Grady, the large Nielsen delegation at the Friday meeting included Steve Hasker, global president; Brian West, COO; and Lynda Clarizo, president, U.S. media.
Among those on the broadcast side on the table were the heads of the Big Three O&O groups — Rebecca Campbell of ABC, Peter Dunn of CBS and Valari Staab of NBC — as well as the GMs of WABC and WNBC — Dave Davis and Michael Jack. Dunn doubles as the GM of WCBS.
Lew Leone, GM of WYNW and WWOR, represented Fox, while Bob Marra, station manager of WPIX, reportedly was there for Tribune.