Bowing to pressure from some of its biggest local TV clients, Nielsen has agreed to withhold broadband-only households from its local TV ratings service “for the time being” and effective with the start of the 2014-15 TV season starting next fall. A Nielsen spokesperson said it was not clear how long the broadband-only homes would be withheld from the local TV ratings sample, but that they would continue to be integrated into Nielsen’s national TV ratings sample as previously planned.
The move is an apparent concession to demands made earlier this week by the National Association of Broadcasters and its Committee on Nationwide Television Audience Measurement, which passed a unanimous resolution calling on Nielsen to delay the rollout of two changes to its national TV ratings methods: The inclusion of broadband-only households that do not receive a conventional TV signal, as well as the implementation of a “hybrid” measurement method combining its traditional ratings panels with data from digital set-top devices.
Nielsen apparently is proceeding with the rollout of the hybrid method, which has been endorsed by a number of major ad agencies and advertisers, but has agreed to withhold broadband-only households, which broadcasters fear could significantly impact TV viewing estimates.
Nielsen executives said they will continue to measure the behavior of broadband-only households, many of which may be watching TV via so-called over-the-top services via the Internet, and would continue to report that data to their clients. It just won't be included in its official local TV ratings estimates or its local TV universe estimates
“In early 2013, the decision to include broadband-only homes in Nielsen’s television universe estimate was made to measure the media behavior of the average U.S. viewer in this fast-changing and evolving technological landscape,” Nielsen Senior Vice President-Insights and Analysis Pat McDonough said in a statement provided to Media Daily News. “This change was made with specific and strategic measurement benchmarks in place as a way to study how this small segment of the vast viewing audience might affect the larger sample.
“Based on a thorough evaluation of the viewing patterns in broadband-only homes and industry feedback on the need to maintain stable measurement in local television,” she continued, “we have decided to exclude broadband-only TV homes from local TV measurement and ratings for the time being. This change will take effect at the start of the 2014-2015 television season.”
Disappointing. In theory Nielsen should be an independent measurement company. While we know they are not, this blatant a capitulation is too transparent. From a television standpoint it would appear the networks have taken the same tact as the newspaper industry in the late 90's. Good luck with that.
Big, bad NAB trying to delay progress again. Learn to embrace the Internet or go the way of the buggy whip.