Nielsen Says No to TV Ratings Audit

(Image credit: Nielsen)

NEW YORK—Nielsen claims that it does not need to take another look at its TV ratings measurements from the past year, rebuking the call by the Video Advertising Bureau on behalf of the major TV networks for an independent, third-party audit.

Last week, VAB wrote a letter to Nielsen calling for an audit on TV ratings during the pandemic, saying there was “dissatisfaction and concerns” with Nielsen’s measurement methods as the system “degraded” over the course of the pandemic.

In a statement, which was provided to TV Tech, Nielsen said that it is regularly examined by the Media Rating Council, and therefore does not need to be subject to an additional audit.

“Third party auditing has always been a vital part of serving as the industry currency and our products undergo a comprehensive audit process with the Media Rating Council on an annual basis,” the statement reads. “Nielsen’s existing MRC audit process exists to ensure confidence and trust in the audience estimates we produce. We have been clear and transparent with the MRC and our clients on every change in protocol we needed to make during COVID to keep our people and panelists safe.”

According to VAB, the changes referred to in the Nielsen statement have led to a 20% drop in households supplying “usable” information. It also claims that the number of homes registering no TV viewing has risen 120%. Nielsen has maintained, however, that its work and numbers, audited by MRC, are accurate.

“Our work with the MRC, the independent body created for this very reason, is ongoing and should serve the purpose of an independent audit,” Nielsen's statement added. “Since VAB members are also MRC members, they should feel free to engage directly with the MRC. A single third party audit is the best approach for the industry and we will work closely with the MRC on all audit requests.”

VAB’s CEO Sean Cunningham responded to Nielsen’s denial for an audit by calling it “a glaring negative outlier from the market’s currency provider and partner.”