Nielsen struggling to update metrics for local television | WIVT

NEW YORK (AP) – The Nielsen company, increasingly criticized by the television industry, announced on Tuesday that it will soon include households that have cut cable in favor of broadband in its audience measurements for local television markets.

Nielsen estimates that about 20% of American homes are now equipped with broadband just for on-screen entertainment. The company is already including these homes in its national TV metrics, but in January it will do so for local markets, giving TV channels a more complete picture of who’s watching in order to sell ads.

“This is a big step in ensuring that our measure is truly inclusive,” said Catherine Herkovic, general manager of Nielsen and executive vice president of local television.

The move comes as media companies have expressed dissatisfaction with Nielsen, which for decades has had a virtual monopoly on television audience measurement, a statistic used to govern billions of dollars in advertising spending.

Because of this position, it is not uncommon for media companies to complain about Nielsen and aspire to a competitor. They fear that Nielsen may not be equipped to handle the drastic shift to streaming services and viewing on multiple devices.

While media and technology have been completely transformed, measurement remains obsolete, said Kelly Abcarian, executive vice president of NBC Universal, measurement and impact, advertising and partnerships.

NBC Universal sent out a request for proposals to other companies last month to help build a new measurement system, and got 80 responses, more than expected. It’s a bold step: Despite all the periodic dissatisfaction with Nielsen, it never resulted in a competitor living up to its scale and service.

“It’s time for us to declare the independence of measurement and create solutions that will serve all consumers, advertisers, publishers and platforms for the next century,” said Abcarian.

Nielsen’s point of view, in essence, is that the truth hurts, that they have become the scapegoats for changes in habits that show a sharp decline in television viewing.

A few weeks ago, the Media Ratings Council, an obscure industry group that rates independent measurement systems, withdrew Nielsen’s accreditation for its national television rating service. While mostly symbolic, it’s a clear slap in the face that highlights the concern about Nielsen.

Herkovic said Nielsen was affected early in the COVID-19 pandemic by an inability to recruit new families to replace those who left its consumer panels that allow the company to measure viewers. “It made things stagnate,” she said.

She said Nielsen was working with the Media Ratings Council to try to restore its accreditation.

One little piece of news Nielsen brought to the industry this week: The Emmy Awards audience, with 7.83 million viewers, has grown over the past two years. This may reflect the popularity of the most honored shows including “Ted Lasso”, “The Crown” and “The Queen’s Gambit”.

Football has dominated the odds, otherwise. One notable game came on Saturday afternoon, CBS Collegiate telecast of Alabama vs. Florida. With 7.86 million viewers and a peak of 11.59 million just before its conclusion, it was the network’s most-watched SEC season opener since 2013.

NBC was the most popular network in prime time, averaging 5.3 million viewers. ABC had 4.9 million, CBS 4.4 million, Fox 1.8 million, Univision 1.3 million, Telemundo 1.07 million, and Ion Television 1.06 million.

Fox News Channel dominated prime-time cable networks, averaging 2.63 million viewers. ESPN had 1.94 million, MSNBC 1.33 million, HGTV 1.06 million, and Hallmark 894,000.

ABC’s “World News Tonight” topped evening news broadcasts with an average of 7.9 million viewers. NBC’s “Nightly News” had 6.6 million and the “CBS Evening News” had 4.8 million.

For the week of September 13 to 19, the 20 most watched prime time shows, their networks and their audiences:

1. NFL Football: Kansas City to Baltimore, NBC, 19.81 million.

2. “NFL Pregame” (Sunday), NBC, 14.72 million.

3. “NFL Postgame” (Sunday), CBS, $ 14.5 million.

4. NFL Football: Baltimore to Las Vegas, ABC, $ 14.46 million.

5. “NFL Postgame” (Sunday), Fox, 11.37 million.

6. “Football Night in America, Part 3”, NBC, $ 10.3 million.

7. “NFL Pregame” (Monday), ABC, 8.44 million.

8. “Emmy Awards,” CBS, 7.83 million.

9. College football: Auburn at Penn State, ABC, 7.61 million.

10. NFL Football: Baltimore in Las Vegas, ESPN, 7.57 million.

11. “America’s Got Talent” (Tuesday), NBC, 7.43 million.

12. NFL Football: NY Giants in Washington, NFLN, 7.33 million.

13. “America’s Got Talent” (Wednesday), NBC, 6.39 million.

14. “America’s Funniest Home Videos,” ABC, 4.46 million.

15. “NFL Pregame” (Monday), ESPN, 4.33 million.

16. “Celebrity Family,” ABC, 4.13 million.

17. “Big Brother” (Wednesday), CBS, 4.05 million.

18. “Big Brother” (Thursday), CBS, 3.91 million.

19. “Football Night in America, Part 2”, NBC, 3.91 million.

20. “Tucker Carlson Tonight” (Tuesday), Fox News, 3.78 million.


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Karl M. Bailey

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