- The Washington Times - Friday, November 3, 2006

NEW YORK (AP) — Nielsen Media Research has put off indefinitely its first-ever ratings system for commercials, primarily because the people who would buy it can’t agree on what they want.

The system, which had already been delayed, was scheduled to start operation Dec. 11.

For years, Nielsen’s clients had been content to receive ratings information on individual shows, which didn’t break down specifically who was watching during the commercials. Now companies want to know this, because digital video recorders give viewers the opportunity to speed through commercials and because the Internet offers other advertising options.

“The clients in general agree that the rating of commercial minutes is something that is coming and needs to come, but the form that it needs to take is something that has not been agreed upon,” Gary Holmes, spokesman for Nielsen Media Research, said yesterday.

The system Nielsen was set to start would measure how many people watched a commercial when it was broadcast live or on DVR in the ensuing seven days.

Advertising agencies have resisted this. They prefer to simply see the ratings for commercials as they have aired live, as opposed to DVR ratings that included commercials that viewers might have sped through. There is also an ongoing debate within the industry about whether to include DVR ratings at all when setting ad rates. They currently don’t.

Broadcast networks are interested in the DVR rates because with more measured viewers they would likely get more advertising revenue.

Cable networks prefer ratings without the DVRs. Partly because of the preponderance of sports and news on cable, their shows aren’t recorded as much as shows on broadcast networks.

Before starting the service, Nielsen wants its competing constituencies to reach some agreement for which standard will be used, Mr. Holmes said. He would not say how many entities had signed up for the service.

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