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Volume 27 No. 29
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TV Execs Angered By Nielsen's Delay Of Out-Of-Home Numbers

TV network execs reacted with anger over Nielsen’s decision to delay the introduction of its planned out-of-home (OOH) measurement. Nielsen execs spent yesterday afternoon calling media companies with the news that the new ratings measurement would not debut in September, as expected. The measurement company did not give a revised start date, saying it will reassess its decision in the first quarter of next year. Nielsen cited the pandemic and stay-at-home orders as a main reason for the delay.

OUT OF NOWHERE: The reason for the networks' anger: Multiple execs told THE DAILY that they felt blindsided by the decision, which Nielsen will formally announce this week. Execs from several networks had no clue that such a delay was even an option -- even though they had spoken regularly with Nielsen over the past several weeks. Another reason for the networks’ anger: The implications of Nielsen’s decision on the ad sales business are enormous, especially considering the NFL season is slated to begin in just six weeks. The decision especially hurts broadcast networks, all of which had been selling ads this fall based on the new measurement. Several execs said that most of their ad sales deals for this fall place some sort of value on the OOH measurement. That means that networks now have to go back to those advertisers to rework those deals. "They now have to be rethought and revalued," one network exec said. Some cable networks, like ESPN, are not impacted as harshly because it had been selling the out-of-home measurement separately, based on Nielsen’s old tech.

OOH NUMBERS HURT BY PANDEMIC: Networks have spent years pushing for OOH measurement, which accounts for bars, restaurants, airports, gyms, hotels. Preliminary data shows that OOH numbers can raise the overall ratings number by up to 10%, which translate to added ad dollars. During the pandemic, both golf and NASCAR events have seen around 6-7% increases thanks to the OOH measurements. Football is expected to be higher. But in a statement emailed to THE DAILY, a Nielsen spokesperson said that out-of-home estimates have been hit hard due to the pandemic, falling by up to 60%. Nielsen attributed this drop to "broad stay-at-home orders, significant reduction in travel, closures of restaurants and public gathering establishments, and other situations that have reduced exposure to television content outside of the home."

DOWN THE ROAD: Nielsen: "In consideration of the impact the pandemic has had on out-of-home audiences, Nielsen has decided to postpone the integration of PPM measured out-of-home viewing into the National TV currency. Nielsen will continue to offer its existing standalone out-of-home reporting service to subscribing clients, many of whom have used the service to transact on out-of-home audiences since 2017. ... With future uncertainty around how the pandemic will further impact out-of-home viewing, Fall 2020 is not the ideal time to integrate this measurement into currency. While a new implementation date has not been determined, Nielsen is prepared to complete the integration when appropriate and will reassess the situation in Q1 2021."

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