Nielsen Rethinks New Cume Ratings, May Provide Them For Cable Too

Days after announcing that the season premiere of NBC's "Heroes" had become the first network TV show to report via Nielsen's new unduplicated cumulative ratings, Nielsen executives say they are rethinking whether they might also enable cable networks to report the same kind of ratings.

In August, Nielsen announced plans to begin offering the new ratings effective this season, but said they were not likely to be that common, because they require broadcast networks and syndicators to rerun the same episode of a show with the same advertising intact to qualify. Instead of reporting ratings for each airing separately, Nielsen withholds the ratings for the initial run, and reports a single rating reflecting the unduplicated audience for both runs after the second airing.

The speed with which NBC embraced the opportunity caught some cable and ad agency executives by surprise and following a series of conversations with Nielsen, the ratings firm says it is now considering ways that the same process can be applied to cable networks.



"We are rethinking this new rule," a Nielsen spokesman confirmed for MediaDailyNews. "We received a lot of feedback from clients over the past two days about the way the rule is being applied and we are evaluating whether we should amend it. No decision yet but it's under consideration."

The executive said Nielsen's systems currently are not set up to generate the new ratings for cable networks because they do not currently supply Nielsen with the kind of "lineup" data that broadcast networks provide, and there are also issues with various time zone feeds for certain cable networks.

He said the broadcast networks pushed to make these changes last year, but cable executives were indifferent at that time even though they were offered the same opportunity.

"It's doable, but it's also a long process," the spokesman said. "We went through that long process for broadcasting at their request. Last year the broadcasters proposed this to us and we researched it, discussed the implications with clients and moved ahead with the change. Last year when this was being discussed, the cable industry did not have the same interest in making a change."

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