Nielsen’s National TV Ratings Service Regains Accreditation from MRC

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The Media Rating Council on Monday said that it reinstated the accreditation of Nielsen’s national television audience measurement (TAM) service, the system Nielsen is planning to replace with Nielsen One, its new multiplatform measurement system.

Nielsen lost the accreditation for its legacy system during the pandemic, when an inability to visit panel homes led to the sample size shrinking and Nielslen undercounting viewership. That added volume to complaints that Nielsen’s methodology was inadequate and antiquated as TV plunged into the streaming era.

The Media Rating Council noted that Nielsen One and Nielsen’s local-market ratings service remain unaccredited. Also not accredited are Nielsen's Digital Ad Ratings, the upcoming integration of certain return path and ACR data into The TAM service.

The MRC said all of those Nielsen products and services are in various stages of MRC audit.

Going into the upfront, Nielsen will be the only  major audience measurement service accredited by the MRC, which could be a factor as more media companies look to do deals based on Nielsen alternatives including, Comscore, VideoAmp and  605.

“Nielsen has undertaken strong efforts to correct the issues that led to its loss of MRC accreditation 19 months ago and to restore key aspects of its panel performance.  The MRC’s audit has shown these efforts have been successful, and as a result, our TV Committee and Board agreed that accreditation should be reinstated,” said George Ivie, executive director and CEO of the MRC.

“That said, there is still more work to be done both in the near and long term to ensure Nielsen’s National TAM measurements continue to meet our standards and the requirements of the industry,” Ivie said.

Among the items Nielsen needs to work on include having the way Nielsen incorporates set-top box and ACR data from smart TV demonstrate compliance and transparency.

The MRC also wants Nielsen to improve its estimates of broadband-only households in the TAM service and to enhance the disclosures it provides to users about the variability associated with its TV viewing estimates.

“These latter two commitments were especially critical to our decision to re-apply accreditation at this time,” Ivie said.

“As the industry demands measurement that is trusted, independent and founded on real viewing from real people, we continue to support the MRC guidelines that set the standard for quality, audited measurement,” said Karthik Rao, CEO, Audience Measurement at Nielsen. 

“It’s our daily mission to maintain our methodologies at the highest standard so that our clients can trade with confidence well into the future. We thank our clients for their trust and for pushing us to get better. At Nielsen, we believe the accreditation process has made us stronger as we’ve evolved our panel strategy and quality measures, and inspired new automation technologies and approaches to ensurethat our service remains consistent and reliable," Rao said.

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.