TiVo Offers Data to Nielsen

TiVo told Nielsen Media Research Friday that it’s willing to share data regarding time-shifted TV ads for the rating company’s controversial commercial-rating system.

TiVo CEO Tom Rogers extended the offer to Nielsen in a letter that was also sent to some 70 others -- officials at ad agencies and TV-network research chiefs.

Nielsen Nov. 3 indefinitely postponed the kickoff of its effort to track viewership of commercials, which entails producing average commercial-minute ratings. The major cable programmers are opposed to the plan, which they said needs some fixes in order to be accurate, while the broadcast networks are balking about the way ads viewed via digital-video recorders will be counted.

“We welcome the ongoing debate on commercial ratings and applaud the industry efforts to come to terms with a better answer than the current state of measurement with respect to DVR homes,” Rogers said in his letter.

“We are prepared to work with all parties to bring our data into the discussions right now so that as an industry, we are able to come up with what is truly the best answer to capturing commercial viewership,” he added. “We have no favorites in this debate. We have no interest in one side ‘winning’ versus another. We simply believe in a fair and accurate measurement of what viewers are watching.”

Nielsen spokesman Gary Holmes said the company was declining to comment until it reviews TiVo’s proposal.

Since TiVo and DVRs will soon be in the majority of all TV homes, “It is imperative at this juncture that we put in place the proper framework for assessing the measurement of commercial viewership fairly and accurately,” Rogers wrote. “As you know from the discussions we have held, TiVo’s unique audience-behavior data can play a critical role in this equation.”

First, Rogers said that since TiVo can capture second-by-second data, “We can measure the actual audience for each exact commercial airing.”

Second, TiVo can provide time-shifting data for the duration “that an advertiser or network deems best, down to the hour,” according to Rogers.

TiVo can also sort commercial ratings by pod location in the program and commercial position within the pod; and sort commercial ratings by length of spot.

“These are all critical parts of the TiVo/DVR-household commercial-ratings equation,” Rogers wrote. “We are prepared to help guide these discussions to the best possible answer by providing key data samplings that will very much enlighten the current debate.”