By Victor Ochieng
The rating of TV shows has been compromised after five million viewers of Fox’s highest rated TV show, Empire, weren’t included in the official rating. According to sources, the show attracted 25 million viewers for its season premier this fall, yet the number of viewers counted in official rating stood at only 20 million.
The Nielsen’s ratings omitted the 5 million, something that might have a negative impact on advertising revenue. However, some sources have revealed that the anomaly is about to change.
So what’s Nielsen planning to do?
The TV measurement firm is set to provide a tool over the coming weeks that will count every TV show’s total viewers, both on television sets and online as well as on smartphones, for over a month after shows premier.
That will allow for attaining accurate figures to be used in negotiating for advertising deals. The $63 billion TV-advertising industry relies on these figures to gauge how much they can spend for advertisement on any given show. There are still some challenges, however, as questions of whether the company that has been in the business for more than 60 years is up to such a demanding task.
Currently, several figures aren’t accounted for as online and delayed viewers are omitted, something that should change should Nielsen’s new tool succeed.
For example, CBS says that the number of viewers for the season premiere of “Limitless” is expected to jump by 22%, or over 1 million, should online and delayed viewing be taken into account.
“The industry is somewhat skeptical,” said Rino Scanzoni, chief investment officer of WPP’s GroupM in an interview. “Can Nielsen fully capture the audience and make everyone comfortable? That is the biggest hurdle.”
There has been a decline in ad revenue for most of the American media companies, and it’s believed that making every view count is likely to raise the revenue. Online viewership mainly comprises of young people, an age set that’s good fodder for advertisers. A show that’s popular with young people might, therefore, end up getting low rating where the online audience isn’t captured.
Effecting such changes won’t mean good news for all media companies as there will definitely be gainers and losers.
“Depending on how the ratings are defined, you’ll have relative winners and losers,” said Tim Nollen, an analyst at Macquarie Capital.
As things stand now, Nielsen defines the industry standard. Effecting a change will therefore be a significant step for the company.
“There is a sense of urgency that now is the time to reassess the rules,” Nielsen’s Clarken said.