CBS Airs Complaints in Dispute With Nielsen

CBS, which let its contract with Nielsen expire at the end of 2018, has gone public with its complaints about the ratings leader’s slow progress in improving audience measurement and its use of its market dominance to raise prices.

CBS also said that if it cannot reach an agreement with Nielsen, it will use “viable alternatives” including Comscore.

CBS is one of Nielsen’s biggest clients and their contract is reportedly worth more than $100 million a year.

In morning trading Thursday, Nielsen shares were down 30 cents a share, or about 1.3%.

“The entire media industry is aware of the need for complete and accurate measurement across platforms. While Nielsen has made some strides in this area, progress has not been what we and many clients would like, and local TV measurement is particularly challenged,” CBS said in a statement Thursday morning.

“Despite this backdrop, Nielsen continues to use their market power to bundle disparate services and raise prices for services that don’t sufficiently address ongoing changes in the industry. As a result, we are currently at a contractual impasse, although we continue to be open to negotiating a fair deal that makes strategic and financial sense for CBS,” the media company said. “If we cannot come to an agreement with Nielsen, we will continue to employ the many viable alternatives available to us, including Comscore.”

In a statement, Nielsen said: “We have an open negotiation with CBS and expect to arrive at a mutually beneficial agreement.” 

Earlier on Thursday, Gray Television, having completed its acquisition of Raycom Media, said it would be using Comscore ratings as its ad sales currency at more of its stations.

All of the stations that Gray owned before the purchase would use Comscore as would the majority of the Raycom stations. In all, Gray operates stations in 91 markets and is using Comscore as its exclusive ratings provider in 80 of them.

At the end of last year, Raycom signed a new agreement with Nielsen covering 10 of its stations. 

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.