Natural disasters often impact Nielsen ratings, due to power outages that affect metering or respondents being displaced from their sample households. But usually, they are specific to the geographic markets where those disasters occur. Not so with Hurricane Irma, which passed through Nielsen’s main data-processing facility in Oldsmar, just outside Tampa, Florida.
Nielsen began alerting clients that ratings data would likely be delayed this week. It did not say when they would be released or whether any data was impacted by the hurricane, which produced storm surges and wind speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour in the area surrounding Nielsen’s facilities.
“Our first priority and thoughts are for the safety of our clients, Nielsen associates and communities in which we operate and serve,” Nielsen said in a statement released today. “The team that reports ratings has evacuated the Tampa Bay area, due to Hurricane Irma. Therefore, our ratings will be delayed in the near term. We are actively monitoring the situation in Florida and will provide another update as soon as we know more.”
“Our business continuity plans worked as expected, including our backup collection facility,” Nielsen Chief Technology and Operations Officer John Tavolieri said in an update sent to customers late Monday. “We have validated that we are collecting data from our metered panels and the call-in volume is in line with our expectations, considering the storm’s impact to Florida DMAs.”
He said Nielsen is using data from its backup facility for “downstream processing” in Tampa. Nielsen is “conducting additional validation steps” to ensure the quality of the data before releasing it.
“Our facility in Tampa weathered quite well through this storm,” he explained, adding: “However, throughout the Tampa area, there are still some curfews, the schools are still closed and our facility will remain closed through the day tomorrow as we clean up some outside hazards. We are also awaiting the return of those employees who were subject to a mandatory evacuation.”