Nielsen Sets Meeting on Commercial Ratings

Nov 8, 2006  •  Post A Comment

Nielsen Media Research has scheduled a meeting for Nov. 30 to discuss a possible compromise intended to save its plan to measure audiences for television commercials.

At the meeting with TV networks and advertising buyers, Nielsen plans to discuss the possibility of adding a new stream of average commercial ratings data beyond the currently envisioned count of live viewers and live viewers plus those who view ads on digital video recorders within seven days.

Nielsen had planned to release its first trial average commercial ratings data Nov. 11. That was delayed last week because of complaints by the broadcast networks, which want ad prices negotiated based on a count of viewers including those who watch commercials in shows viewed using DVRs.

It is now unlikely that any data will be available until next year, and it is unclear whether there will be enough time to evaluate the data and use it in negotiating deals in the 2007 upfront advertising market.

The broadcast networks object to Nielsen delivering a stream of “live” viewing data because it doesn’t include the growing number of commercials watched on DVRs. Unless they get paid for some of those delayed impressions, networks don’t want to participate in a commercial ratings systems.

Advertisers and media buyers don’t like the live-plus-seven-days measure because they feel that a seven-day delay in viewing undercuts their marketing objectives.

Several network executives have endorsed the notion of a compromise at live plus two days or live plus three days. Some ad buyers have accepted the idea that delayed commercials have value, while others are sticking to a hard line, insisting that ad deals be based on live viewing only.

Advertisers want some form of commercial ratings data because they want a better measure of how many people are watching their ads, as opposed to how many people are watching the shows, which is what the current system measures.

Since the idea was proposed in June, controversy has arisen as the details are worked out. Cable networks have opted out of the system, saying Nielsen has problems with separating national commercial breaks and local breaks. Nielsen has also been unable to come up with a satisfactory way to measure syndicated shows with multiple runs in a day.