Nielsen to keep Local Data streams – for now


Looks like The Nielsen Company is cooperating—at least for now—with agency demands that Live Ratings be included as a currency stream, as well as Live + Same Day.  Sabrina Crow, Nielsen’s SVP, Managing Director, Local Media Client Services sent clients a limited revision to plans (12/16) to change the local TV ratings. 

Specifically, overnights will be Live Same Day only.  The Live viewing will be added into the Total Viewing Sources file, which is issued monthly.  Also, this transition phase will end on March 31.

This will allow agencies to continue to post ratings and conduct business on Live ratings if they and the stations agree.  Nielsen views this as a short-term transitional step because agency and station clients have been in discussions to see if they can coalesce around a set of data streams that makes sense for the whole industry.

The letter:

December 16, 2009

Dear Client,

Over the past six months Nielsen has been talking to all local market clients about changing the reported data streams in LPM and Set Meter markets.  After substantive and extensive dialogue, on November 9th we announced a set of changes to go into effect this coming January.  Throughout the entire process, Nielsen’s goals have been to report data (a) that best depicts contemporary viewing and (b) that represents the best solution for addressing most clients’ needs.  As accompanies any change of this magnitude, there has been a significant amount of controversy among our local client base regarding our announced decision.  However, in recent weeks we have been encouraged by the growing dialogue amongst our clients and we hope that this dialogue will lead to the industry’s coalescing around a set of data streams that will be best suited to conduct business.  

The purpose of this communication is to announce that Nielsen is creating a transition period from January 7th, 2010 until March 31st, 2010 to facilitate the introduction of these changes.  The transition period will enable us to (a) introduce the new Live + Same Day data stream that so many clients have asked for (b) provide the industry additional time to prepare and (c) continue to provide Live LPM data in the TVS format, for comparison purposes, during the 1st quarter.  We believe these steps will create the smoothest possible transition.

Nielsen’s transition plan will go into effect on January 7, 2010 and will continue until March 31st.  The remainder of this communication describes this plan and outlines what will stay the same and what will change, during this time, compared to the plan announced on November 9th.

Overnights – No Change to Plan: 
There is no change to the plan regarding Overnights.  The new Live + Same Day data stream will be added in LPM and Set Meter markets to our overnight deliverables (Arianna and Local Dailies) and will replace the Live Only data stream.  We will continue to produce the Live + 3 and Live + 7 data streams as well. 

Total Viewing Sources (TVS) and Electronic Data Files – Transition Plan Added:

The new Live + Same Day data stream will also be added to the TVS and electronic data files.  This is as originally announced.  However, this new stream will replace the Live + 3 data stream during the transition period.  This represents a modification to our plan.  In LPM markets both the Live and Live + 7 data streams will continue to be produced.  In Set Meter markets the Live + 7 data stream will continue to be produced. This modification is being made in order to continue to provide Live LPM data in the TVS format, as we do today, during the transition period for comparison purposes.

Insights on DVR Viewing

It continues to be Nielsen’s point of view, based on our analysis of viewing trends, that Live + Same Day audience estimates are a better representation of individual day viewing than Live Only audience estimates for the reasons summarized below:

The amount of playback is increasing – as a result of both DVR penetration growth and an increase in DVR usage – and should not be ignored.
The majority of playback is “near live” or same day viewing: over 60% is played back the same day and over 40% is actually played back within the hour.
DVR playback has a very differential impact – by market, program, daypart, etc. – which can lead to a skewed view of audience delivery if not accounted for.
Playback is needed to accurately understand true audience composition.  For example, the playback audience tends to be younger and more upscale.
Programs with the same size Live audience can have very different amounts of playback and, thus, different total audience.
Neglecting playback affects both reach and frequency of advertising schedules.  Using Live Only ratings data can potentially lead to flaws in planning and buying and distortion of TV performance, impacting consumer behavior – leading one to pick the wrong mix of programs and weight for advertising schedules.

Attached is a research paper which provides an in depth analysis of Live and Live + Same Day viewing.  We will be holding a webinar on Tuesday, January 5, 2010 to review this paper.  We will get back to you with the details shortly.

Please contact your Nielsen Client Services representative if you have any questions. 

Warm Regards, 

Sabrina Crow
SVP, Managing Director, Local Media Client Services