Nielsen Delays Release of Spot Ratings Until Dec. 11

Oct 18, 2006  •  Post A Comment

Nielsen Media Research will wait to release average commercial-minute ratings, a measure intended to provide accurate data on how many viewers are watching spots, until Dec. 11, delaying a planned Nov. 18 launch.

The information will be made available free to Nielsen subscribers for the current television season, the ratings company said Wednesday.

Networks and advertising buyers who use Nielsen ratings to negotiate prices for commercials want to know how many people are watching ads, a measure that would improve on current ratings that track only how many people are watching shows. The spread of digital video recorders, which allow viewers to skip ads has made it more important to get an accurate reading on commercial viewing.

The broadcast networks and one media-buying agency ordered the new ratings in June but disputes arose over how the ratings would be calculated. The accuracy of preliminary data coming from some cable networks and syndicators generated major complaints.

In a note to clients, Nielsen said it has finalized its definition of a national commercial rating and the way the average is computed. Minutes with one or more seconds of national commercial time will be included in the data, and the minutes will be weight-averaged by the number of national commercial seconds. Direct response ads will be included, but promotions and public service announcements will be excluded.

Nielsen said all average commercial ratings data for the 2006-07 season will be labeled as “evaluation data,” signaling that the information is not ready to be used as currency for ad buying.

The initial data will not include “multi-segment programming” such as regionalized football games in which the commercial time does not line up. It will also not include data for syndicated programs with double runs in a day. Nielsen said it is working on how to figure out how to report those numbers.

The data will be made available free to networks that decide to be included in the measurement. Some cable networks have indicated they might not want to be included in the data because it might be inaccurate or misleading. Networks that do not opt in will not have access to the data.

Nielsen said it was providing the information free “so that clients have maximum opportunity to evaluate and understand the data.”