NEWS2 September 2021

Nielsen TV measurement accreditation suspended

Media News North America

US – The board of the Media Rating Council (MRC) has voted to suspend Nielsen’s industry accreditation for its national TV ratings service.

Person using a TV remote control

The MRC has also removed the accreditation hiatus that had been in place for Nielsen’s local TV ratings services, and suspended accreditation for these markets.

The MRC conducts audits of businesses offering audience measurement to determine whether they comply with industry standards.

The industry association said in a statement that suspensions may be imposed when a service “has been documented to have material standards non-compliance or operational issues that are deemed to have exerted an adverse effect on the service”.

The move follows Nielsen’s recent request for a hiatus from the accreditation process for its national TV ratings.

George Ivie, executive director and chief executive, the MRC, said: “While we are disappointed that the situation has come to this, we believe these are the proper actions for the MRC to take at this time.

“MRC’s board of directors, which represents an extremely broad range of industry constituencies, and includes advertisers, agencies, and media companies of all types, is strongly unified in its positions on these matters. MRC stands committed in our willingness to work with Nielsen toward the goal of being able to restore accreditation to these important services at the earliest possible time, and it is our hope that Nielsen likewise will continue to engage with MRC and its clients in pursuit of that goal.”

Nielsen said in a statement that it is working to address issues raised by the MRC.

Chief executive David Kenny said: “We will continue to provide the most representative, reliable and robust audience measurement available, which the market can continue to trade on with confidence. While we work to remediate issues raised by the MRC, we think it’s also critical to continue building a media future that accurately measures and reflects the consumer cross-platform journey and keeps pace with rapid technological advancements.”

The need to return to target levels of panel size and maintenance was an issue flagged by the MRC, according to Nielsen. 

The company said the pandemic had hindered panel maintenance and recruitment of new panellists and that it has since resumed in-home visits. It has a target to install 41,600 new households by the first quarter of 2022.

The MRC said it had suspended accreditation for the local TV ratings services after Nielsen stated its intention to add broadband-only homes.

Nielsen said it will work with the industry body to audit universe estimates for weighting and sample controls to make sure broadband-only, cable and over-the-air homes are “properly represented”.

Other areas requiring attention from Nielsen include strengthening and testing its business continuity and recovery processes and making its process for recording and communicating any changes in methods more transparent. 

Last month, NBCUniversal called for new industry approaches to measuring media, noting: “We need all our industry’s builders – including Nielsen – to architect an entirely new blueprint.”