The VAB, the TV advertising trade group, says Nielsen’s return to maintaining its national TV panel in late March has now resulted in improving weekly reach estimates.
Nielsen’s weekly reach percentage of its Total Use of Television (TUT) for persons 2+, has grown to more than 88.5% for April 19, up from just over 86% from the first week in March. The VAB says those reach levels are now at the highest levels in the last 10 months, since June 2020.
The group has complained that 9,400 of some 30,000 to 40,000 Nielsen national TV homes didn’t get required in-home maintenance during most of 2020, due to COVOD-pandemic issues which prevented workers from entering households.
This resulted in low weekly reach of all U.S. viewers -- down to 89% from a 92% level for all of 2019. It continued to decline to just over 86% in early 2021. Nielsen resumed maintenance in its panel homes March 22.
Nielsen’s reach estimates are used to generate viewership data for TV networks.
TV networks have complained about the sharp declines since March 2020, just after the pandemic took hold. Weekly reach of persons 2+ was around 285 million (TUT). It dropped to about 265 million at its low in early March.
The issue became more pressing in the last several weeks and months as TV networks prepared to sell inventory for the upfront advertising market, set to begin this upcoming summer.
Viewership data is crucial in making projections for the TV season that begins in September.
A statement from Nielsen says:"Last year, as communities around the world were impacted by the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, we innovated our panel procedures to protect the safety of our panelists and field staff and the integrity of our ratings, developing new ways to recruit and maintain our panels. We were able to return to pre-COVID processes and procedures in March this year. We will share a detailed analysis for review with the MRC and our clients, and feel confident we will continue to provide the industry with the data they rely upon to transact with confidence."
This story has been updated.