OPINION14 September 2009

Reading between the lines

Let’s have a look at how the media covered the launch last week of the Coalition for Innovative Media Measurement (CIMM).

The official line from the group, which will fund pilot studies into new ways of measuring media, focusing on set-top box data and cross-media measurement, was that it is ‘not about Nielsen’.

That’s their story and they’re sticking to it, but it hasn’t stopped everyone else from coming to the conclusion that this is indeed very much about Nielsen.

The New York Times’ Brian Stelter said the fourteen companies involved were “tacitly displaying their frustration with the country’s chief source for television ratings”. Some might say it wasn’t even very tacit.

Claire Atkinson of Broadcasting & Cable said the move might be “less about bringing in new competition and more about bringing the monopoly provider of TV ratings to the negotiating table”.

Joe Flint of the LA Times suggested that the results of the planned studies “could prod Nielsen to change its methodology”, and the AP’s David Bauder agreed, saying: “Although attempts to compete with Nielsen have failed, networks have been convinced in the past that complaints or other research initiatives prod Nielsen into updating its methods.”

Kenneth Li of the Financial Times saw it as “a move that could upset Nielsen’s control on media tracking”, following “decades of frustration” with the firm.

Beyond that, not much is clear. Joe Flint’s response in a blog post to the coalitions’ own attempts to explain its plans was: “Confused? So are we.”

That was certainly how we felt here at Research – James Verrinder commented that what we have so far been told about the coalition’s plans has raised more questions than it has answered.