"More preteen children are watching television this fall than last, according to new data from TV-ratings firm Nielsen, raising questions about Viacom Inc.’s contention that a glitch has caused the sharp drop in its Nickelodeon channel’s audience," writes Sam Schechner in the Wall St. Journal. [Note: the WSJ is behind a pay-wall and may charge you to read this article. To read the free version The Hollywood Reporter wrote about this story, please click here.]
Adds the WSJ’s Schechner, "At Nickelodeon, Nielsen’s data show an accelerating decline. An average of 969,000 kids between the ages of two and 11, a group of particular interest to many advertisers, watched the channel in September, down 11% from a year earlier. In October, the decline was 17%, and in the first three weeks of November it steepened to 19% from a year earlier. Nielsen Holdings NV said in a statement that it has worked with Viacom to review the ratings, adding that ‘the review process confirms that our measurement methodology, operations and related reporting processes are working as expected.’ "
According to the WSJ, "Nielsen’s data paint a broad picture of how kids’ overall TV-watching may be shifting amid a whirlwind of technological changes and a new competitive landscape. While Nielsen’s numbers show more children viewing TV in total than a year ago, slightly fewer are watching during the day and more are watching shows on nonkids networks, Nielsen says. The Nielsen data also reflect a bigger Hispanic audience, with 4.6% more Hispanic TV households this fall than last."
As previously reported on Nov. 7th, 2011, "The sudden decline in Nickelodeon’s Nielsen ratings undermined the company’s ad revenue for the quarter, Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman said during a conference call today." He also said at that time that the Nielsen numbers were in contrast to what the company was seeing from set-top data.
The current WSJ story adds that both Viacom and Nielsen "are working with the Media Rating Council, an outside organization that is reviewing the data with the help of auditors. MRC says it expects to complete its work by early December but will release its findings only to Nielsen and Viacom."