NEWS24 February 2015

Nielsen under fire as US TV audiences appear to fall

Features News North America

US — TV measurement companies, including Nielsen, have come under fire from US broadcasters accusing them of failing to keep up with changing viewing habits.

A story in the Financial Times noted that falling TV ratings had become a feature of recent financial results: according to analysts MoffettNathanson, Viacom saw viewership fall 18% in the fourth quarter of 2014, while Nickelodeon audiences had fallen by 17% and MTV 14%.

Viacom has argued that people are still watching its content but in different ways – including on smartphones and games consoles – and has pointed the finger at Nielsen for not accounting for this. According to the story, Viacom’s chief executive Philippe Dauman has said that inadequate measurement has undermined innovation and disproportionately hit programmers such as Viacom.

Nielsen has admitted that viewing a programme after its original transmission has taken a toll on TV measurement. “What it looks like is a decline in ratings when in fact there is shifting viewing that is not captured,” said Megan Clarken, Nielsen’s executive vice-president of global digital products. The company has also revealed plans to introduce new tools to measure watching on digital devices.

This criticism comes months after Nielsen admitted that it had been reporting inaccurate ratings for US broadcast ratings for seven months last year.