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Media Rating Council Sees Nielsen Audit Extending Past Q3

Nielsen building in Canada
(Image credit: Raysonho @ Open Grid Scheduler / Scalable Grid Engine - Own work, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=88467132)

The Media Rating Council said that Nielsen's bid to get its national and local ratings services reaccredited won’t be completed until the third quarter at the earliest, and after the upfront TV ad market takes place.

Nielsen’s accreditation was suspended last September after the MRC confirmed that Nielsen had been underreporting viewing during the pandemic. The undercount was largely the result of a decline in the number of homes in Nielsen’s sample and the quality of data coming from those homes because Nielsen was unable to monitor those homes in person because of COVID-19.

In an update Thursday, MRC said that it had recently reached an agreement with Nielsen about the audit that would be necessary prior to its accreditation being reconsidered.

“While auditing of certain related areas already has been done, Nielsen’s remediation work will extend into Q2 2022, and therefore a complete audit report is not expected to be delivered to MRC until the end of Q3,” MRC said. 

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With Nielsen’s ratings service unaccredited, alternate ratings services see opportunities to be used as currency in this year’s upfront NBCU has said it will use data from iSpot for media deals and media companies including Paramount and WarnerMedia are also testing currencies based on data from Nielsen rivals.

MRC is also auditing the “Big Data” Nielsen is adding to its panels in order to better measure a fragmenting media environment in which more consumers are streaming programming and watching on digital devices. 

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An audit report on Nielsen’s Big Data is in process, MRC said, and the audit report is expected to be delivered to MRC in mid Q3.

The networks and distributors represented by VAB have asked Nielsen to stop distributing commercial ratings data incorporating big data because it has found discrepancies and inconsistencies that could cause confusion in the market.

MRI also said it is in the process of auditing Comscore's local and national TV audience measurement services. The audit began last fall and an audit report is expected to be delivered to an MRC audit committee in the fall, MRC said.

An audit of iSpot’s linear television ad monitoring service is underway as well, MRC said.  ■

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.