Effective today, demographic data reported by Nielsen in all but the top 25 TV markets, will be unaccredited. The move follows Nielsen's decision to drop paper diaries -- a nearly century-old measurement method -- for estimating the demographic composition of audiences in its "set-metered" market ratings and to begin using new, as-yet-unaccredited methods for calculating who is watching television.
As a result, media industry self-regulatory ratings watchdog the Media Rating Council announced Wednesday that the demographic data Nielsen reports for those 31 markets -- ranked 26 and up -- will be unaccredited.
The move follows Nielsen’s decision to drop paper diaries -- a nearly century-old measurement method -- for estimating the demographic composition of audiences in its local metered market ratings and to begin using new, as-yet-unaccredited methods for calculating who is watching television.
In 2010, the MRC pulled accreditation for Nielsen’s 154 diary-only TV markets and that service has remained unaccredited ever since. The new move affects the nation’s 31 largest TV markets -- and the ones accounting for most of spot TV ad spending -- which previously used a combination of meters for calculating household ratings and diaries for estimating audience demographics.
While household ratings in the set-meter markets will continue to be accredited, the MRC said Nielsen’s demographic data will no longer be accredited in those markets.
The MRC said it is continuing to review accreditation for the new method being introduced in place of diaries, a mathematical modeling technique that Nielsen calls “viewer assignment” that extrapolates audience estimates.
In a related move, the MRC said another new method being introduced today by Nielsen to estimate household ratings in 14 previously diary-only markets will also remain unaccredited. That method, an electronic “code meter,” is also being evaluated by the MRC, which said it expects to make a decision on accrediting both methods in early 2016.
The MRC’s decision to pull accreditation for the demographic data of Nielsen’s metered market services, comes a week after the MRC made an unprecedented decision to continue accrediting ratings for Nielsen’s national TV ratings, even though it is conducting a concurrent review of the same “viewer assignment” method being used as part of Nielsen’s new NPX, or “national panel expansion” method. The MRC said that service will continue to be accredited until the council completes its review of the service in early 2016.
While MRC accreditation does not determine whether a ratings service’s estimates can be used as “currency” for advertising buys, the accreditation process was created as the industry’s agreed-upon self-regulatory process for ensuring that ratings meet certain minimum standards. The process, and the formation of the MRC, were created following Congressional hearings on the ratings scandals of the 1960s and a consent decree with the U.S. Department of Justice.