Nielsen dealt blow in cable ratings bid

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US TV ratings giant Nielsen has been dealt a blow in its bid to measure for the first time how many viewers actually watch commercials on cable TV.

US cable industry trade group the Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau (CAB) recommended its members not take part in the inaugural research, prompting NBC Universal's cable networks to opt out. That move was followed by Viacom's MTV Networks as well as Discovery Networks, Time Warner's cable networks arm and Walt Disney's ESPN.

Networks said they disagreed with the way that Nielsen is measuring TV ad ratings. Cable chiefs say the Nielsen system has difficulties recognising national and local TV ads within the same break, but was intended only to measure national advertising.

Nielsen postponed the start date for the cable TV ad ratings survey by a month while it discussed its methodology with network chiefs.

Advertisers are keen to understand viewer behaviour during ad breaks as US cable and satellite TV operators continue to roll out digital TV recorders, which allow viewers to fast forward or skip through ad breaks.

Lovelace Consulting  |  30.10.2006

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