TV Audience Measurement: The Battle Wages On


While it may not be as hyped as a Mayweather v. Pacquiao bout, the battle for TV Viewership Measurement is in full force. Nielsen - the once the indisputable champ – has taken a few blows in recent years as technology and available data have evolved. The biggest threat to their dominance is the measurement platform developed by Rentrak.

Nielsen’s data still provides the ratings currency upon which TV advertising has been bought and sold. However, their system has not gone without criticism. On a local market level, industry experts have frequently questioned their sample methodology for smaller markets. And on both a national and local level, the standard age/gender viewership reporting is not sufficient in today’s data-driven world. Nielsen is developing products that address these issues.

Rentrak’s set top box (STB) measurement system may offer an alternative that provides more data in smaller markets. Additionally, they are able to provide audience measurement that goes beyond age and gender. Recently, the Media Rating Council (MRC) determined that Rentrak’s TV ratings are not ready to receive accreditation – but this is not unusual for an initial audit of a complex system. Rentrak will make refinements and the MRC will likely audit it again later this year.

It’s important to monitor and assess all available measurement platforms and data sources. While we continue to use Nielsen as our primary source for audience measurement, we also have developed partnerships with Rentrak and other providers to meet the needs of our clients.

The beauty of this battle is the advancements being made during every round. It promotes innovation and pricing efficiency, which benefit our clients and us. So it’s safe to say, the unanimous winner so far is the TV advertiser.

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