Details of the gaffe were outlined in a letter sent by Nielsen Executive Vice President-Global Business Services Mitchell Habib to clients, as well as at least half a dozen separate communiqués from individual Nielsen service units on Wednesday.
Habib described the event as a "significant system disruption," but added that Nielsen technicians have been working aggressively to fix the problem and that they believe it had been resolved as of Wednesday morning.
The problem, which occurred when Nielsen relocated its mainframe computing system to a new facility in Plano, Texas from its an older one in Oldsmar, FL, triggered a "series of technical issues" that made it impossible for Nielsen to retrieve data necessary to process its ratings.
Ratings affected by the glitch included:
* Local Overnight Data
* Fast Affiliates Data
* Fast Nationals
* National Broadcast and Cable Overnight and Weekly Data
* Live+7 Data
Habib said Nielsen planned extensively for the transition and hired an "industry-leading technology partner" that was paid a "premium of $1 million over the standard fee to have them focus additional resources on this project to ensure a high quality and timely transition. We took these extra steps in order to avoid any impact on clients."
A Nielsen spokesman said that while the core problems have been resolved, it make take until Jan. 12th to process the remaining delayed data.
"I've never seen a day like this," said one Nielsen client after receiving his ninth in a series of related ratings delay notices.
The client, who requested anonymity, said his main concern was that Nielsen had not advised clients of the relocation - and the potential risk of dislocation that might occur from it - beforehand, so that they could have been prepared for a snafu should it occur.
"It's fine for Nielsen to invoke the term of 'continuous improvement' in these matters, but to its clients, it looks more like continuous chaos," he said.
A Nielsen spokesman said it did not issue a broad client communication about the mainframe system relocation because it believed it had taken the steps necessary to ensure it would be "seamless to client."