MRC: Nielsen underestimated local television viewing

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NEW YORK– The Media Rating Council issued a statement that Nielsen underestimated local audiences earlier this year, with smaller markets presenting the most problems.

In May, the MRC criticized Nielsen’s underreporting of national listening during the pandemic and it now reports similar gaps in local listening among the 56 measured local markets it studied.

“The results show an overall underestimation of the reported viewing estimates, which is of a similar dimension to the underestimates seen in the previous round of national analyzes conducted by Nielsen,” the MRC reported. “The sizes of the differences between the simulated and actual view estimates appear to correspond largely to the size of the market, with the smaller markets measured (in particular, markets with a Set Meter + Return Path Data methodology) highlighting the differences. most pronounced, while the larger local people counting markets and, to a lesser extent, the Set Meter + PPM markets, showing somewhat smaller differences between simulated results and reported visualizations.

The MRC simulations revealed that the biggest problems in the smaller ‘Set Meter + RPD markets’, where households using television (HUT) were underestimated by 1% to 5%, with an average difference of 2%. , 5%.

In these markets, the undercoverage of TV users aged 25 to 54 (P25-54 PUT) was 9%, with an average difference of 3.9% between the MRC simulations and the Nielsen figures.

In markets using “Set Meter + PPM” methodologies, the undercoverage of HUTs reached 3.7%, with an average difference of 1.3% and PUTs P25-54 reached 4%, with an average difference of 2 , 2%.

In contrast, LPM markets had an average spread of 0.4% in HUTs and 1% in P25-54 PUTs.

The findings reinforce widespread complaints from broadcasters and networks about Nielsen’s numbers.

Even at seemingly low levels of 2-4%, undercount could amount to hundreds of millions of dollars in ad spend on local television.

Earlier this year, Magna estimated that local TV advertising would reach about $ 14.3 billion in 2021. That estimate would mean that a 2% undercoverage could cost broadcasters $ 286 billion, while 4% could translate into more than half a billion in lost revenue.

The MRC, however, stressed that “the results should be considered preliminary and are based on an April 19 visit deadline (the same coverage period that was used for the analyzes of the national valuation estimates) for the determination of homes. of the panel to be included or excluded. “

In a statement, Nielsen noted that “In collaboration with the MRC, Nielsen conducted an in-depth analysis of the estimated impact of changes to its panel maintenance protocols during the COVID-19 pandemic on local markets. Throughout the pandemic, Nielsen has been innovative and resilient, and has spoken with the MRC to implement procedural changes that prioritize the safety of our panelists and staff, as well as than the integrity of monetary measures used by industry. “

Nielsen also pointed out that its “what-if analysis from February 2021 showed that 90% of the P25-54 rating changes for major local stations and cable networks were no greater than 0.05.[%]”different from reported results.

Further, Nielsen said, “Since early March 2021, Nielsen has been actively applying key field learnings as we return to pre-COVID maintenance procedures. Our first step was to identify the homes that most needed a maintenance visit. As of June 4, we have treated 100% of homes with maintenance needs. As we continue to execute our panel recovery strategy, we are excited to help the industry get back to normal after this unprecedented pandemic.


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