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Nielsen: Some Commercial Ratings Top Program Ratings

May 31, 2007  •  Post A Comment

The Nielsen Company today released its first standardized measure of TV advertising viewing and found that several shows had higher commercial ratings than program ratings when delayed viewing on digital video recorders was factored in.
For example, NBC’s “The Office” had a live program rating among adults 18-49 of 3.11 for the week of April 30. Its commercial rating for live viewing plus three days of DVR playback was a 3.36. “The Office” showed the biggest improvement of the shows measured by Nielsen.
The figures released Thursday illustrate why the broadcast networks believe basing commercial prices on ratings that include DVR playback is so important. This season, ads were sold based on live ratings, which have dropped sharply thanks partly to the increase in DVR use.
As next season’s upfront ad market unfolds, some media agencies have already said they plan to buy commercials based on live plus three commercial ratings, but most of the industry is still haggling over how much playback should be counted and how much those delayed impressions are worth.
Nielsen’s new Commercial Minutes Ratings take the average rating for the minutes in programs in which commercials appear, rather than calculating ratings for each of the individual commercials bought by advertisers. Many ad buyers say that average commercial minutes might be acceptable in the short term, but would prefer more granular data in the future.
Nielsen will be calculating data based on live viewing, live viewing plus DVR playback during the same day and live viewing plus DVR playback for one, two, three and seven days for broadcast, cable and syndicated shows.
Multiple streams of data are needed because buyers say that some advertisers, like retailers or movie studios, need their ads to be seen when they run. If they’re seen after a movie opens or a sale ends, that has no value to them.
In today’s announcement, Nielsen said about 17 percent of U.S. households have DVRs and about 10 percent of broadcast prime-time viewing is seen via DVR playback. For cable, 97 percent of viewing is live, while 98 percent of viewing of syndicated shows is live.
(Editor: Baumann)

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