Comscore has let it be known that it will seek Media Rating Council audits for its national and local television measurement offerings sooner than originally planned.
At Comscore’s request, the target start date for an MRC audit has been moved up from early 2022 to no later than October 15, 2021, the MRC confirmed in a statement.
The MRC, which has had Comscore’s television ratings in an inactive status since 2018, said it has been in discussions about those products since early this year.
The talks are designed to “provide feedback to Comscore in its preparations to resubmit its Comscore TV product into the MRC’s audit and accreditation process,” and the MRC “will work with Comscore in the coming weeks to formalize this request and to finalize an audit plan,” the MRC said.
When an audit commences, the MRC will make a public announcement.
Comscore’s push comes as the MRC considers Nielsen’s request to pause its own national TV service accreditation process, amid heavy fire from the networks over Nielsen’s underreporting of viewing numbers starting with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.
In a blog post on Tuesday, Kelly Abcarian, NBCUniversal’s executive vice president of measurement and impact, declared that it is time for “measurement independence… We need all our industry’s builders — including Nielsen — to architect an entirely new blueprint.”
NBC sent a request for proposal to more than 50 of its measurement partners — including Nielsen and Comscore — plus Data Plus Math, Conviva, Truthset, VideoAmp and iSpot, regarding future “measurement yardsticks” for marketers in a streaming and addressable advertising world.
Nielsen has acknowledged that its national ratings panel encountered problems starting in March 2020 because COVID prevented its field agents from entering Nielsen panel homes to conduct regular maintenance.
The Video Advertising Bureau said this resulted in dramatically lower total weekly-reach TV use, and major viewership declines.
The MRC, which noted that Nielsen’s National Television Service has had “some deep-rooted, ongoing performance issues that have threatened its accreditation — many of which pre-dated the well-documented Covid pandemic related impacts to its panels,” could approve Nielsen’s request for a temporary suspension of the audit process for up to six months (with an option for a six-month extension), or deny the company accreditation.
In addition to addressing issues with its panel, Nielsen has said it wants time to focus on developing its One service for cross-platform measurement.