Nielsen has flatly rejected calls for from main networks for an out of doors audit of its TV scores for the previous 12 months amid complaints the measurement firm has undercounted viewers throughout the pandemic lockdown interval.
In what would look like a rebuke to calls for that the TV-ratings large submit its current viewers measurement to an unbiased evaluation by guide Ernst & Younger, Nielsen stated Friday that it already is examined frequently by the Media Score Council. That business group has maintained media analysis requirements for many years and its membership consists of most main media corporations, media shopping for companies and plenty of huge advertisers comparable to Walgreens, Unilever and Procter & Gamble.
“Third occasion auditing has all the time been a significant a part of serving because the business forex and our merchandise endure a complete audit course of with the Media Score Council on an annual foundation. Nielsen’s present MRC audit course of exists to make sure confidence and belief within the viewers estimates we produce,” Nielsen stated in an announcement Friday, including: “Our work with the MRC, the unbiased physique created for this very motive, is ongoing and will serve the aim of an unbiased audit.”
The retort is the newest salvo in a rising battle between Nielsen and the TV networks that depend on Nielsen numbers because the forex for promoting offers.
The networks allege Nielsen modified protocols throughout the coronavirus pandemic that resulted in undercounting of the TV viewers over the previous 12 months. The networks say Nielsen stored discipline brokers from sustaining know-how in particular person houses of viewers who participate in Nielsen’s measurement course of and, whereas together with houses in its panel whose homeowners had relocated owing to pandemic circumstances. Whereas Nielsen has issued statements about the way it dealt with the matter, the networks haven’t been happy.
Sean Cunningham, CEO of the VAB, an business group that represents the TV networks to the promoting business, expressed displeasure Friday, noting that “Nielsen’s refusal to take any kind of motion, within the face of a research-backed request from its key business stakeholders, is profoundly disappointing and an enormous disservice to a TV market that has had a stellar monitor report for collaboration and transparency.” He added: “This response — or lack thereof — denying a third-party analysis of its COVID information is a obtrusive damaging outlier from the market’s forex supplier and companion.”’
On Wednesday, the VAB despatched a letter to Nielsen demanding the corporate permit the brand new third-party auditor to “confirm the accuracy of Nielsen’s outcomes information throughout the March 2020 – March 2021 time interval. As a part of the unbiased ‘outcomes’ audit course of, the auditor can have the flexibility, autonomy and authority to create a advice that would embody market-facing numerical adjustment components.”
However Nielsen says the networks have already got a method of grading its work. “Since VAB members are additionally MRC members, they need to be happy to have interaction straight with the MRC. A single third occasion audit is the very best strategy for the business and we are going to work intently with the MRC on all audit requests.”
That group is within the midst of analysis on Nielsen’s efforts throughout the pandemic, George Ivie, CEO of the MRC, informed Selection. The group is working with Nielsen to grasp how any challenges to information assortment, together with sustaining Nielsen know-how in houses, might need affected its work. “We don’t have the reply to that but,” he stated. “It’s a really complicated piece of analysis.” MRC expects to finish its examination over the following a number of weeks, he provides, and can talk its findings to each its members and to Nielsen.
The MRC may show to be a essential think about any potential decision of the dispute. It’s one of the vital venerable teams within the media and promoting industries, shaped on the behest of the U.S. authorities within the wake of TV’s quiz-show scandals of the Fifties. The federal government wished some form of assure that TV scores wouldn’t be manipulated, however on the similar time, discovered viewers measurements too area of interest to observe itself. “We’re fairly easy. We solely do two issues,” stated Ivie. “We set requirements for the way media is measured, after which we conduct audits of corporations that measure media to find out whether or not they’re in compliance with our requirements.”
The skirmish between the networks and Nielsen takes place because the business prepares for its annual “upfront” gross sales session, when U.S. TV networks attempt to promote the majority of their business stock for his or her subsequent programming cycle. Many advertisers construct out placement of their shoppers’ commercials by “mirroring” viewers ranges from the prior 12 months, and any perceived discrepancy within the 2020 numbers would give the networks trigger for concern.
This isn’t the primary public squabble between the networks and Nielsen to floor in current months. In July of final 12 months, Nielsen reversed a last-minute choice to not implement a brand new measure of so-called “out of dwelling” viewing — audiences watching TV in places of work, bars, resorts and the like — regardless that the networks had sought it. Nielsen cited the pandemic’s results on viewership in these venues as a motive to delay launch of the brand new system. The networks, which had already established advert offers with the brand new measurement concerned, went ballistic, and even demanded a public apology. Media shops and advertisers have more and more discovered themselves at odds as new know-how forces modifications within the programs each side have relied upon for many years.