Boosting its claim of Nielsen undercounting beginning in 2020, the VAB, the TV network trade group, points to data from iSpot.tv showing a number of different viewership metrics grew in calendar-year 2020 over the year before.
For example, it says the total monthly average household TV “ad ratings” were 6% higher to 3.97 million viewers per time period -- versus 3.75 million the year before. In addition, it said 18-49 viewers grew 4.8% to 1.97 million and 25-54 viewers were up 4.9% to 2.0 million.
With the U.S. strongly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic in summer 2020, The VAB says “work at home” audiences showed advertising ratings were higher due to higher TV news viewing and the return of major TV sports franchises -- after that sports TV content was halted in March due to the pandemic.
The VAB has said Nielsen's halting of its in-home maintenance by field agents for its 40,000 national TV panel starting in 2020 led to "undercounting."
There were major declines in total weekly-reach TV use, the VAB says -- to an 87% average in the first three months of 2021, from 92% for all of 2019, calling it
“an unprecedented drop.”
Recently, the VAB asked the Media Rating Council to suspend Nielsen’s accreditation of its TV data.
Major TV networks witnessed near 20% declines in viewership for the 2020-2021 TV season.
The VAB says iSpot.tv data comes from 117 measured broadcast and cable TV networks and is based on national ad units viewed on a live-plus-same-day time shifted viewing and up to 30-day time-shifted viewing.
It notes this "includes over-the-top streaming, over-the-air transmissions."
The VAB adds the data was built up from individual ad impressions for every national ad unit, and then "extrapolated" from the iSpot.tv panel to the U.S. TV viewer census. It then says the resulting data set takes the average ad rating within each day, network and daypart combination and is then added up to generate results for all of TV.
Data here comes from iSpot.tv comes from 23 million smart TV and set-top boxes.