April 11, 2017

Lyle Schwartz in Variety on TV Ratings Innovation

When Nielsen announced plans last year to offer Total Content Ratings, an initiative to measure audiences no matter what screen is being watched, Hulu seemed an ideal beneficiary.

The streaming service makes everything from “Empire” to “The Golden Girls” available on every conceivable device, from tablets to smartphones.

But just as Nielsen was preparing in December for an early 2017 launch of the metric, NBCUniversal, which has an ownership stake in Hulu, and other media companies successfully argued for a narrower rollout. Part of their objection was how measurement of shows on Hulu “was significantly incomplete, and therefore would actually offer misguided direction,” says Krishan Bhatia, executive vice president of business operations and strategy for the ad sales division at NBCU. Megan Clarken, president of product leadership at Nielsen, says her employer will be better equipped to capture every set of eyeballs looking at Hulu after the implementation of TCR tracking software, which should be in place by July.

It’s not easy to embrace new ways of doing business after decades of sticking to the same methodology that has been in place since the “The Honeymooners” first flickered on screen. But if the industry can’t come to a consensus on which solution is best to evolve TV’s hopelessly broken measurement system beyond its current reliance solely on Nielsen monitoring of linear TV audiences, it risks losing no small portion of the approximately $44 billion in advertising dollars that ad-buyer Magna Global says was spent on national TV last year.

Read full story at Variety


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