ABC Backs Down, Will Make Ad Deals Based ‘Live’ Ratings

Jun 5, 2006  •  Post A Comment

ABC will offer to make upfront advertising deals based on live ratings, backing down from its position that it would only do deals that accounted for live viewing and delayed viewing by people using digital video recorders.

Ad buyers, concerned that commercials will be skipped by DVR users, have insisted on pricing commercials based on how many viewers are watching shows when they’re scheduled. The networks, led by ABC, have wanted to issue audience guarantees based on Nielsen Media Research ratings data that included either the live viewers plus people watching the same day on DVRs, or live viewers plus those watching over the following seven days.

Buying and selling for the $9.1 billion upfront television advertising market has been held up as networks and buying agencies negotiated over the DVR issue. While the buying agencies appeared united, there were signs that some networks were willing to negotiate on a live basis, making it difficult for ABC to maintain its posture.

ABC has begun sending out commercial schedules to buyers and is expected to begin closing deals later today, one source said.

The live viewers standard will be one option offered to advertisers, ABC said Monday in a statement. Buyers have indicated that ABC may offer lower cost-per-thousand prices to advertisers who opt to include DVR viewing as part of their deals.

“While the majority of the advertising community has reached a consensus on the Nielsen DVR ratings issue, and has concluded that that commercials seen during a DVR-recorded programming have no value, the ABC Television Network continues to believe strongly in the worth of the ‘Live Plus’ viewer, and will continue its efforts to include this audience,” ABC said in its statement.