NBCUniversal Moves TV Stations, Regional Sports Networks To Impression-Based Ad Deals

Eighteen months after NBCUniversal said it would be officially switching to local TV advertising deals based on Nielsen-measured impression data, the process begins April 1.

NBCU made the original announcement in September 2019, saying all locally based TV advertising deals -- all NBC/Telemundo-owned TV stations and those on its regional sports networks -- would be switching its “currency” from Nielsen-measured TV viewers/demographic ratings.

Impressions-based data will now be made via the cost-per-thousand impression (CPM) metric.

The long period of the launch was intended to give prep time for media agencies and marketers to make necessary adjustments to media-planning and media-buying operations.

Historically, marketers have always translated ratings data to impressions to determine specific media-buying performance. But now it has become much more important when looking to compete and compare ad deals with new media platforms.



Frank Comerford, Chief Revenue Officer of NBCUniversal-owned television stations at NBCU, stated: “Impressions puts local TV on a level playing field with digital, since advertisers will no longer need to convert ratings to impressions in order to evaluate an overall ad buy.”

Impressions offer much more granularity than ratings, which could add back anywhere from 5% to 20% in viewers, depending on the daypart, according to Michael Chico, executive vice president of NBC/Telemundo-owned television station sales, NBCUniversal.

"Ratings, unlike impressions, are held to Nielsen’s minimum reporting standard thresholds,” he said. And if ratings do not meet minimums, Nielsen reports them as “zero.” But impressions data still exist in these specific hour periods.

NBC says all this will accurately show increases in viewers as a result of the addition of broadband-only households. Nielsen is adding in broadband-only (BBO) homes into local market samples starting April 1.

After NBCU made the announcement, many other station groups followed suit, including Nexstar Media Group, Sinclair Broadcast Group, Gray Television, E.W. Scripps, CBS Television Stations and ABC Television Stations.

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