Suspension of Nielsen Accreditation Stays in Place as Nielsen One Launch Nears

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The Media Rating Council decided that it is not ready to reaccredit Nielsen’s television ratings service just as the measurement company is getting ready to launch its new Nielsen One system.

The decision led Nielsen critics to renew their objections to Nielsen going forward with Nielsen One. Despite industry criticism and increased activity with alternative measurement providers, Nielsen remains the predominant currency for buying and selling billions of dollars worth of advertising.

The accreditation of Nielsen’s TV ratings service was suspended last year after the MRC confirmed industry complaints that Nielsen was undercounting TV viewing because of defects in its audience panels that resulted from being unable to properly manage participating households because of the pandemic.

Nielsen, acquired in October by a consortium of private equity investors, has been working to get its MRC accreditation back, but an audit committed last week voted to keep the accreditation, according to a letter obtained by Advertising Age.

The letter said the MRC would provide Nielsen with a “list of material non-compliance situations and open areas, including the relevant commitments made by Nielsen with the committed timing for each. And we'll use this list to establish a timing for reassessment of accreditation status by the audit committee.”

The MRC confirmed the suspension is in place, and that it would continue to work with Nielsen towards accreditation.

“It is profoundly disappointing that someone has shared a confidential document that presents only one side of the story of our ongoing engagement on Nielsen’s National TV service,” said David Gunzerath, senior VP, associate director of the MRC. “While it is true the existing suspension of MRC accreditation remains in place at the current time, it is also true that we believe Nielsen has made significant progress on most of the issues that led to that suspension, and MRC continues to actively work with Nielsen on a path to address the remaining issues so that a consideration of reinstatement of accreditation to the National TV service may occur relatively soon.”

Nielsen had no comment and referred to the MRC stations.

Long an industry punching bag and assailed as a monopoly that provides a service better suited for the days when there were only three broadcast networks to be measured, Nielsen has been under heavy fire from the networks and distributors represented by the industry trade group VAB.

The latest report that Nielsen had failed to satisfy the MRC brought new criticism.

“The post-audit decision to deny re-accreditation for Nielsen’s national panel ratings service is first: reflective of the ad market mandate for vastly improved cross-platform video measurement and currency; and second: a neon ‘Nielsen One not ready’ sign,” said VAB CEO Sean Cunningham. 

Also: In New Setback, Nielsen Says Its ‘Big Data’ Isn’t Ready for Transacting

“The national panel is the second foundational piece of Nielsen One, along with ‘Big Data,’, that failed their Nielsen One auditions and appear to have a long way to go as key drivers of Nielsen One’s stated purpose and promise. We’re united with advertisers in our shared desire for thoroughly modern cross-media measurement, just as the entire ad marketplace is also loudly insisting that both the pieces and the whole have to be held to higher standards,” Cunningham 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.