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Nielsen, MRC Push Back on VAB's Lost TV Advertising Estimates

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NEW YORK—Nielsen has pushed back strongly against a Video Advertising Bureau (VAB) study that found Nielsen’s undercounting of audiences resulted in major losses for TV broadcasters totaling upwards of $700 million during a 16 month period.  

In its statement Nielsen said “We reviewed the information shared by the VAB today, and while we acknowledge the understatement in a portion of our National out-of-home audiences, we stand by our prior statements that the magnitude of the issue was very small for the majority of telecasts.”

The MRC, for its part, noted that the VAB has mischaracterized MRC's analysis of Nielsen's problems with undercounting audiences during the pandemic. 

"[The MRC] would like to correct a representation that was made concerning MRC in a report issued today by the Video Advertising Bureau (VAB) titled `Behind Billions of Lost TV Impressions,’” the MRC said. 

“The VAB report made several references to 'adjustment factors’ that were attributed to MRC, resulting from an analysis MRC conducted last year that concluded certain understatements to Nielsen’s ratings had occurred,” the group said. “In fact, MRC did not position these figures as `adjustment factors,’ nor did MRC recommend they be used in that manner; rather the figures MRC published in May 2021 were presented simply as estimates of ratings understatements that MRC believed occurred in the single month of February 2021. February 2021 was chosen as the subject of the analysis at the time because MRC believed it represented the period at which the potential COVID-related impacts to Nielsen’s panels were at their peak.”

George Winslow is the senior content producer for TV Tech. He has written about the television, media and technology industries for nearly 30 years for such publications as Broadcasting & Cable, Multichannel News and TV Tech. Over the years, he has edited a number of magazines, including Multichannel News International and World Screen, and moderated panels at such major industry events as NAB and MIP TV. He has published two books and dozens of encyclopedia articles on such subjects as the media, New York City history and economics.