Nielsen to Offer Raw Commercial Ratings Data

Dec 7, 2006  •  Post A Comment

Nielsen Media Research will offer clients raw data on how many people watch commercials minute by minute, giving television networks and advertising buyers new information to wield in a dispute over how to calculate prices for TV spots.

A Nielsen spokesperson Thursday said the roll-out of the raw data on broadcast commercial viewership will begin in a couple of weeks. Data on cable commercials will be available in late April and syndication commercial research will start flowing in late May.

The ratings company unveiled the plan to offer the data during a meeting it held Thursday for TV and advertising executives. Nielsen has been in the middle of a dispute between networks and ad buyers as they struggle to set prices for commercials in an age where many viewers delay viewing using digital video recorders.

Networks have pushed to set prices based on live viewers of commercials plus audiences who tune in over the next seven days using DVRs. Ad buyers have stuck to a live-plus one day standard.

More than one Nielsen client described today’s meeting as constructive and said a lot of questions were answered to the participants’ satisfaction.

“I think people are comfortable now that Nielsen can deliver data that is valid and reliable and that can be developed into a currency” for negotiating ad deals, said David Poltrack, executive VP for research and planning for CBS.

Nielsen can only deliver three streams of data compatible with clients’ software programs for next-day delivery. The industry will have to agree on which of the three streams become the common currency.

“That doesn’t have to happen for a while,” said Alan Wurtzel, president of research and media development for NBC Universal.

Disagreements on the issue came to a boil at the last upfront advertising market, with ad buyers insisting that commercial time be bought and sold on the basis of live viewers, and live plus viewers who watch recorded shows the same day they air. Networks were rebuffed in their push to negotiate deals on the basis of live plus seven-day counts.

Nielsen earlier had suggested a live-plus two or three day compromise.