MRC Updates TV Measurement Status, Reaffirms No Accreditation Imminent

Days after NBCUniversal officially announced it will be using two new unaccredited suppliers as the official "currency" for advertising buys -- for national and Comscore for local -- the Media Rating Council this morning issued an update on the statuses of various TV audience measurement services currently under its review.

The update, which doesn't announce any change in the overall status -- currently only one TV measurement service is accredited by the MRC, Media Monitors' TV Spot Service -- but it provides some nuanced information on where other suppliers stand in the process, including, Comscore, and Nielsen.

For Nielsen, which has been the ad industry's historic sole TV advertising currency ever since Arbitron pulled out of the local TV measurement business in the early 1990s, had its accreditation suspended for both national and local TV measurement by the MRC in September 2021.



The "MRC and Nielsen recently reached agreement about the auditing that will be necessary prior to reconsideration of the accreditation statuses of these services," the MRC's update reads, adding, "While auditing of certain related areas already has been done, Nielsen’s remediation work will extend into Q2 2022, and therefore a complete audit report is not expected to be delivered to MRC until the end of Q3.  Additionally, an audit of Nielsen’s “Big Data” inputs to its future TV measurements is currently in process, with this audit report expected to be delivered to MRC in mid Q3."

That statement contradicts ones made by Nielsen CEO David Kenny months ago that its services would once again be accredited soon, and coupled with the MRC's updates for other services under review, reaffirm that the 2022-23 season will be the first to take place with no accredited currency in the marketplace.

During her comments at NBCU's developers conference this week, Executive Vice President-Measurement & Impact Kelly Abcarian went a step further, telling the network's guests that "time is running out.

"In 2024, the currency our industry uses today -- the one our industry has used for decades -- will completely disappear. Let me repeat that: The currency we use today is going away. No matter what. That means no more year-over-year comparisons -- and all the data that feeds your marketing mix models will be gone."

She went on to make the case that "we will all have to start over, so we are choosing to get started right now."

In terms of the nuances related to NBCU's "certified" currencies for national and local measurement, the MRC states it this way:

  • iSpotTV: "An audit is currently underway of iSpot’s reporting of TV ad occurrence data."

There are a number of other potentially viable alternative currencies being reviewed by NBCU and other big suppliers, but none of them are currently under review by the MRC.

On Wednesday, one of them, 605 announced its "Advanced Audiences" TV and "cross-platform" measurement service will be available to advertisers using Xandr's demand platforms, and touted it as part of a shift "away from traditional guarantees based on age and gender demographic ratings."

"Advanced Audiences will allow advertisers to define television audiences with greater precision using first- or third-party data, so sellers can generate optimized proposals across networks, dayparts, and selling titles that are more likely to deliver against an advertiser’s target audience and business KPIs," it claimed.

5 comments about "MRC Updates TV Measurement Status, Reaffirms No Accreditation Imminent".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, March 25, 2022 at 9:06 a.m.

    Joe, as I understand it, NBCU is using only for "cross platform" buys which I assume means those involving its streaming and any other non-linear platforms. Otherwise, it's using Nielsen for"national". Since the vast majority of national and local ad dollars are still spent in linear TV Nielsen remains the basic currency. Whether that will continue to be the case and whether Nielsen's new "Big Data" system replaces the old one as "TVs" primary currency remains to be seen.

  2. Joe Mandese from MediaPost Inc., March 25, 2022 at 9:24 a.m.

    @Ed Papazian: That may be your understanding, but I don't think these things are explicitly clear, and I think there's a fair amount of semantics involved at this point, at least in terms of the way I've been understanding what NBCU is doing.

    My sense is its plan is that it's all "cross-platform" going forward. I think that was the point of is Olympics tests, and that it is trying to accelerate a shift from individualized linear TV advertising deals to gross linear and non-linear audience delivery. That's my sense, but I actually haven't heard NBCU state that explicitly and ultimately, it's up to the marketplace, especially its clients to determine what they buy.

    If you read this article and click through to the verbatim script of what they presented, they use the term "cross-platform" a number of times, but not as differentiated currency, per se.

    They also don't mention "Nielsen" once, other than Abcarian's implied reference that I cite in the story you're commenting on, vis a vis that "currency" no longer existing.

    Lastly, if you look at the only graphic NBCU showed delineating its current currencies, only (for national) and Comscore (for local) are represented. There is no "Nielsen" in it.

    All that said, I still think its clients will have something to say about what currencies they use as the basis of their ad buys. And it's quite possible they may even be things other than Nielsen or

    But is the only one "certified" by NBCU -- so far.

  3. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, March 25, 2022 at 11:15 a.m.

    Thanks for your reply, Joe. However my understanding is that Comscore is a "candidate" for local market measurement which means that NBC is continuing to use Nielsen---even if it is not mentioned.

    As for the term "cross platform" it's usage is ,indeed, rather vague. But consider this. Suppose a multi brand corporate upfront buy involved both "linear TV" and Peacock---NBCU's AVOD service. Chances are pretty good that a preponderance of the ad dollrs would be "linear" in such a "cross platform" buy. What would be the "currency" for the "linear" portion's audience or Nielsen? I may be dead wrong on this and, please, someone at NBCU correct me---but I believe that the likely choice would be Nielsen.You may well say that's up to each individual buyer---and you'd be right--but I think that many will want Nielsen.

    Which brings us to the new Nielsen service, which as Kelly correctly points out will be an entirely new service---hence all trending comparisons with the past will be compromised. In view of this, I'm not surprised that NBCU wants for its impending AVOD/digital time sales. Nielsen is just unveiling its new service and it will take time for all parties to digest its methodology and examine its findings. The question---for which I have no answer at this time---is will Nielsen be able to establish itself as the currency for streaming/digital time sales?

  4. Joe Mandese from MediaPost Inc., March 25, 2022 at 11:24 a.m.

    @Ed Papazian: We can speculate all we want, but this is what NBCU says its certified currencies are (just eyeSpot.TV and Comscore, no Nielsen for national or local):

  5. Jack Wakshlag from Media Strategy, Research & Analytics, March 25, 2022 at 12:55 p.m.

    As you noted in one of your recent articles, Joe, the folks at NBCU know and carefully prepare for Upfront from early January. It is a complex process deployed with amazing attention to detail to maximize their revenues. I saw similar work at Turner and was always impressed with the level of detailed preparation.  What NBCU says it is doing is very well planned each step of the way. They know to not leave anything to chance.  

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