COVID-19 has created major disruptions when it comes to Nielsen's collection of data around local TV ratings.
Nielsen now states it has “proactively entered into a six-month hiatus from Media Rating Council (MRC) accreditation in the Local People Meter and Set Meter markets.”
Nielsen says the hiatus will give it time to “transform” the management of its local TV market panels from “in-person” efforts to “remote” operations. It will continue to invest and make planned enhancements.
The company adds that its Nielsen's National people meter service remains fully MRC-accredited.
In June 2020, Nielsen and the MRC announced that both Nielsen's local people meters and its local set-meters in 19 markets have been accredited.
But that announcement made no mention of the other 179 local TV markets -- mostly smaller ones -- measured by Nielsen. The MRS said at the time that Nielsen's local TV measurement services remain under review.
In October 2019, Nielsen announced it was expanding its local TV market panel of portable people meters and return-path data into a number of top U.S. markets.
Total sample size is expected to grow from 12,500 to 300,000, depending on the market. That's a significant uptick from 400 to 800. The move, on average, would double the panel size in the top 44 markets -- 25 local people meters and 19 set-meter markets.
In addition, other TV viewing data -- called Return Path Data [RPD+] -- from set-top boxes largely from DirecTV, Dish Network and Charter Cable, as well as National People Meter homes -- was integrated with panel data for 12 set-meter markets and 15 code reader markets.
Code readers are installed in markets to capture over-the-air viewing missed by set-top boxes.