Nielsen Finally Agrees To Commercial Ratings, Data Available In October '05

Following years of pleading from Madison Avenue, Nielsen Media Research Monday quietly told its clients it would finally make TV commercial ratings available beginning in October 2005.

Well, Nielsen didn't say it exactly that way. What it said was that beginning next year, it would "incorporate minute-by-minute respondent level viewing for all national programming sources and will include flags for minutes of programs with commercials." Simply put, the data will allow advertisers, agencies, and networks to easily identify the exact rating for any television minute, including ones that have TV commercials in them.

"Finally," reacted an ebullient Kate Sirkin, executive vice president and global research director of Starcom MediaVest Group, following the announcement. Sirkin, who has been among the most vociferous champions of the minute-by-minute data, said the development comes none too soon.

"As television continues to fragment, it will significantly change the value of a 30-second commercial," she said, adding that it has become imperative to evaluate the actual rating of commercials themselves.

The Nielsen move means that as soon as the beginning of the 2005-06 TV season, agencies will begin posting buys via commercial ratings, and as soon as the spring of 2006, they will begin negotiating upfront buys for the 2006-07 TV season based on them.

However, it remains unclear exactly how many agencies will actual subscribe to the data, which is expected to be sold on an a la carte basis and at a hefty price tag. Nielsen did not disclose its rate card for the new data, and said only: "This new product will be available to those clients that elect to subscribe to it."

But an earlier recent pricing model for the data would have had a handful of networks and agencies sharing it on a collaborative basis at a price tag of several million dollars per year. SMG was one of the few shops to publicly acknowledge agreeing to pay for the service.

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