CBS, Nielsen Start New Year With No Ratings Pact


It’s not so much of a happy new year for the account executives at Nielsen who are assigned CBS Corporation as a client.

As the clock struck Midnight on Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019, a ratings agreement between the nation’s dominant audience measurement and data provider and the broadcast TV company lapsed.

No new deal is in place.

A Nielsen spokesperson contacted midday Wednesday by RBR+TVBR expressed confidence that the absence of the company’s ratings data across CBS’s properties won’t last long.

“We have an open negotiation with CBS and expect to arrive at a mutually beneficial agreement,” the Nielsen spokesperson said.

With confirmation that talks are ongoing between Nielsen and CBS, and suggestions that the lack of Nielsen-based ratings data for CBS could be short-lived, there is still talk that CBS is considering following the lead of the new No. 2 broadcast TV station owner — Gray Television.

Gray on December 20 revealed that, in a note sent earlier in the month to “valued media partners” from VP/National Sales Becky Meyer, it does “not have sufficient confidence in the new methodology recently adopted by Nielsen Media Research” to justify Gray’s continued reliance on Nielsen’s viewership measurement in any of its markets.

Gray handed the task to Comscore, and it was the second big score of the month for Nielsen‘s biggest competitive threat to its Watch segment — the financially successful side of a beleaguered company that has seen its stock battered in 2018. On Dec. 18, Comscore revealed that it now has an expanded deal with The E.W. Scripps Co. While three of its markets had previously been using Comscore data, all of the company’s TV stations will now count on Comscore to provide it audience estimates and ratings information. Scripps continues to offer both Comscore and Nielsen data in all markets, however, and has not dropped Nielsen as did Gray.

When Gray’s announcement regarding Nielsen was released, RBR+TVBR asked a Nielsen spokesperson about its discussions with CBS. “We expect to arrive at a mutually beneficial agreement well in advance of December 31,” the Nielsen representative said via e-mail.

That didn’t happen.

Meanwhile, Raycom Media on Dec. 28 inked a renewal agreement for Nielsen local television ratings service within most of Raycom’s LPM, SET and Code Reader markets, beginning Jan. 1.

But, Raycom is merging with Gray Television — providing Nielsen with a short-term contract win with an entity that will likely say no to an extension of this just-signed deal, pending any major thawing of the icy relationship between Gray and Nielsen.

It was the second new contract with Nielsen seen in December. On Dec. 20, a “comprehensive” extension of an existing agreement with Hearst Television was announced.

CBS shares started 2019 on a positive note, rising 4.5% to $45.66. The lone announcement by midday Wednesday was not about Nielsen, but about its Q4 and full-year 2018 results: CBS will report those results after U.S. financial markets close on Thursday, February 14.

Nielsen shares were up 20 cents to $23.53.

Meanwhile, Nielsen shared via an 8-K filing with the SEC that on Dec. 26, Nielsen SVP/Corporate Controller Jeffrey Charlton informed the company that he will be leaving effective March 1.


  1. Should this:
    “… extension of this just-signed deal, pending any major thawing of the icy relationship between Gray and Raycom.”

    Be “… Gray and Nielsen. “?

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