Despite Undercounting, Accreditation Issues, Nielsen Sees 5.5% Gain In Q3

After a difficult period earlier this year, when Nielsen was criticized for undercounting national TV viewers, the media measurement company says business has been good of late.

Nielsen says third-quarter revenue was up 5.5% to $882 million -- with its audience measurement business gaining 3.9% to $637 million and its Outcomes & Content unit improving 9.9% to $245 million. Net income was $103 million versus $10 million in the year-ago period.

David Kenny, CEO of Nielsen, in an earnings phone call with analysts on Thursday, said: “Growth in the U.S. was led by national media clients and digital-first clients, and we saw particular strength in digital products from our national media client base.

As for the suspension of accreditation of its national and local TV services in August by the Media Rating Council, stemming from those undercounting issues, Kenny said: “We have not been perfect, but we believe in the integrity of our ratings and our high-quality panels are foundational to measuring audiences.”



Critics, including the TV network advertising trade group the VAB (Video Advertising Bureau), said those undercounting issues were due to lack of household panel maintenance, given the COVID-19 pandemic. This resulted in a sharp drop of households delivering useful viewing data.

Nielsen now says many of those panel maintenance issues have been resolved. Its national TV panel has built up to its pre-COVID levels -- around 40,000 TV homes. Kenny said it is on track to get to 41,600 homes in the first quarter of 2022.

“We believe in accreditation and fully support the audit process. In fact, we continue to be the only service audited across our products. We are in continuous dialogue with the MRC, and we've also engaged an external firm to support our efforts toward remediating outstanding issues.” Kenny did not provide specific details.

Kenny also noted Nielsen has tripled the sample size of its streaming meter homes to 18,000 and is now getting data for 17 streaming platforms, accounting for 85% of the streaming market.

Nielsen says it continues to incorporate Big Data into its measurement products, which is then validated by its TV and streaming panels.

2 comments about "Despite Undercounting, Accreditation Issues, Nielsen Sees 5.5% Gain In Q3".
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  1. David Saline from 260 Media & Entertainiment, October 29, 2021 at 6:32 p.m.

    And yet the "industry" continues pay millions and millions every year for flawed data.  When will someone step up and just say, No more?

  2. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, October 30, 2021 at 5:47 a.m.

    David, the reason why "the industry" continues to use Nielsen is because it has no reason to believe that Nielsen is grossly misrepresenting the relative share of audience----not the exact size but the share----of the various networks, channels and individual programs. In other words, how they divide up the audience---whatever it actually is.

    It's too bad that some of the networks had to give advertisers "makegood" announcements because of a slight "undercount" by Nielsen of the 18-49 audience guarantee "demo's" viewing levels---but they probably did this by adding commercials to their programs rather than giving back cash in most cases. As for the ratings, they already present a vastly inflated picture of who actually watches commercials because the system was never designed to record second by second eyes-on-screen viewing, merely whether the  set was on when the commercials appeared. Viewing is assumed---not measured.

    Yes, Nielsen needs to clean up its act but we are hardly in a crisis mode with huge time buying  and programming blunders being made because of "flawed" data. The sky isn't falling because of Nielsen. Now let's see what "the industry" comes up with as the specs for a new---and better?----TV rating system. Will we ---at last---try to measure viewing---not just tuning? Will the time sellers go along with this concept? How do we handle streaming/ CTV, etc.? Stay tuned.

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