Amid Continued Problems, TV Networks Call For the Nielson Rating Accreditation to be Suspended

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Undercounting continued for the Black, Hispanic, and young individuals, according to the trade organization VAB.

The Media Rating Council should suspend Nielsen’s national TV ratings certification because of the data giant’s COVID-19 workarounds, according to the VAB, a media trade group.

Nielsen TV ratings get their credibility from MRC accreditation, which allows them to be utilized as money in billion-dollar network TV agreements. According to VAB CEO Sean Cunningham, whose association represents TV networks, suspending accreditation would not likely plunge the industry into turmoil.

According to Cunningham, networks and buyers may still deal using the suspended ratings. Suspension, on the other hand, he claims, would require Nielsen to present a comprehensive, public strategy for correcting measurement issues that have resulted in consistent undercounts of TV viewers for more than a year, particularly among Black, Hispanic, and younger people.

Suspension is not a sign that says: ‘Out of order. Do not use. It’s more of a sign that says ‘Under Repair’ and ‘Buyer and Seller Beware.’

He says it would lead to “a coherent process that outlines what’s required to be reinstated.”

“We are fully committed to returning to pre-COVID operations and are working closely with and through the MRC to address any outstanding issues and requests and are committed to their process concerning accreditation,” a spokesman from Nielsen said.

The MRC said that it takes the VAB’s and its members’ concerns “very seriously” and that it has been proactively addressing issues raised by the group with its whole Nielsen management and TV committee. Nielsen national tv ratings remain accredited, as the MRC stated: “We will keep the marketplace informed of any subsequent actions.”

the entire 2021 data set is going to need to be looked at, with January through December needing a massive asterisk and a tremendous amount of disclosure

On Wednesday, the VAB released a comprehensive brief outlining five instances where Nielsen failed to meet the MRC’s minimal criteria.

These include requirements that data with known inaccuracies or biases be withheld, even in the event of a natural disaster or business disruption; that no methodology experiments be conducted unless independent tests conclude the effect on data is minimal; that each rating report discloses deviations from standard operating procedures; and that data weighting or adjustments be based on consistently applied criteria.

The VAB claims that despite Nielsen revealing the results of a self-conducted audit in May, the business fell well short of those standards. According to the latest statistics, the adjustments Nielsen implemented in April to restore thousands of panel houses to full-field maintenance haven’t solved the problem.

According to data given by the VAB, Nielsen-measured homes were down 18 percent in June 2021 compared to February 2020. According to the VAB, heavier-viewing houses with three to four TVs were also disproportionately affected. Black and Hispanic homes, as well as those with individuals aged 18-24, were down even more to 21%-23%.

“I can’t, honestly and objectively, find a reason why [the MRC] would not suspend accreditation,” says Cunningham. “I believe the entire 2021 data set is going to need to be looked at, with January through December needing a massive asterisk and a tremendous amount of disclosure.”




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