Carat Backs 'Live' Only Ratings, Says 'Further Discussions' Required

Big media buying agency Carat is throwing its considerable TV advertising clout behind Nielsen's so-called "live" ratings, calling on the major TV networks to hold off on plans to incorporate new Nielsen data measuring the playback of programs on digital video recorders for the balance of the 2006-07 TV season. Beyond that, the agency says "further discussions" are required before it would feel comfortable incorporating DVR ratings into its 2006-07 ad deals with the networks.

The disclosure, which comes in the form of a new position paper released late Thursday by Shari Anne Brill, vice president-director of programming at Carat USA, follows similar statements by big ad agencies including Interpublic behemoth Magna Global USA and WPP's Mediaedge:cia, that "live" ratings should remain the currency of network TV ad deals at least until the new DVR data can be better understood.

The major broadcast networks, have maintained that DVR playback data boosts the ratings for the most popular TV shows, and should be factored into ad deals and audience guarantees. Recently, Fox signaled something of a shift in its hard line stance, acknowledging so-called "live plus same day" of DVR playback as the industry's standard, vs. the more encompassing "live plus seven days" of DVR playback.

The cable industry has taken a wait-and-see position until the dust settles and DVR data patterns become more stable, but many believe the 2006-07 upfront buying season will become a much more stratified market with deals being based on a variety of combinations of those data streams depending on the needs of clients and their willing to take risks on the timing of their commercial exposure.

"Carat believes the best solution is for the industry to stick with live ratings through the balance of the 2005-06 broadcast season and have further discussion regarding 2006-07," wrote Brill, adding, "This will allow a more definitive look at how DVR playback activity impacts program ratings."

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