Rentrak: The Consensus Is We Are No Longer A 'Census'

In a surprise move, digital TV set-top derived TV ratings service Rentrak this morning announced it will no longer use the term “census-like” to describe the audience estimates it produces.

The company indicated the decision was due to some “consultation” with media industry ratings watchdog and de facto self-regulator the Media Rating Council, which apparently determined that the term census misrepresented the kind of ratings Rentrak produces, even though they come directly from the the set-tops of TV viewers in the universe they cover.

In its statement, Rentrak said it was “redefining the terms” it uses to describe its national and local TV audience measurement services because of the MRC, and would now refer to them simply as, “Rentrak Local” and “Rentrak National.”

Whether they are local or national, Rentrak’s total database of TV usage is derived from a panel of 13 million “return-path” TV homes, including 29 million TV sets.
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3 comments about "Rentrak: The Consensus Is We Are No Longer A 'Census'".
  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc , June 18, 2014 at 10:29 a.m.
    This is a responsible move by Rentrak and the BRC. They should both be commended. The major issue that remains, however, is how Rentrak can move from set usage ratings to viewer ratings. I hope that it is successful in this regard.
  2. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc , June 18, 2014 at 12:09 p.m.
    Correction: I meant the MRC, above.
  3. Tony Jarvis from Olympic Media Consultancy , June 18, 2014 at 6:24 p.m.
    Is this fuss justified? Probably. Unfortunately however we are all lax with nomenclature in the media measurement business. The industry uses the terms "viewers" or "viewership" although I suggest that not one company actually measures either but merely reports their refinement on TV set or STB tuning data - to Ed's point above. "Viewable impressions" in the interactive world is a great step forward in measurement but it does not and should not be interpreted as "viewed" which I have heard used by experts on industry stages regarding the resulting "audience" metrics! Erwin Ephron always reminded us to carefully study the measurement approach in order to understand the interpretation of the level of exposure (or not) for the consumer - gross impressions or opportunities-to-see; likelihood-to-see; C3; Eyes-On; etc. He also encouraged measurement of the consumer rather than the devise but that plea seems to have been lost? Significant improvements and innovations in media and consumer measurement take time. In the meantime we should all be more careful with our use of language in describing what is measured.