NBCUniversal calls for ‘declaration of measurement independence’ as Nielsen comes under pressure

NBCUniversal has given the strongest indication yet that it intends to break free of the US standard for audience measurement defined by Nielsen ratings, by stating that it is putting together a group of partners to develop a new standard.

The move comes after Nielsen last week called for a “hiatus” in the accreditation process by which broadcasters express their confidence in its audience measurement currency through approval by the industry’s Media Ratings Council.

“While we remain confident in the integrity of our data and measurement, and fully support the audit process, we believe that moving to a hiatus allows us to concentrate our audit-related efforts on continuing to address panel concerns alongside the transformation of our National TV product and development of Nielsen One,” the rating agency said, referring to its initiative to broaden audience measurement to account for new non-linear and multiscreen consumption, by developing what it describes as a “single cross-media currency” that is “trusted, independent and standardised”.

With pressure building on the ratings outfit, which has come under criticism over the accuracy of its reporting of TV ratings, Nielsen said that in parallel with its cross-media efforts it was “working diligently to get our [established audience] panel back up to full strength by increasing panel size, improving demographic representation and addressing panel maintenance”

Despite Nielsen’s efforts to head of a revolt by US broadcasters, NBCUniversal said it no longer wanted to rely on a single metric.

Kelly Abcarian, EVP, measurement and impact, NBCUniversal, advertising and partnerships, penned a statement in which she stated that “we all know” that “advertising measurement is outdated”.

“It’s time for us to declare measurement independence, and build solutions that will serve all consumers, advertisers, publishers, and platforms for the next century,” she said.

Abcarian said that that the industry should embrace “multiple yardsticks” using a “universal identity to raise standards”. She said that interoperability would be key to this effort, and that the industry should embrace “new sources of identity signals and make data more accessible and actionable” to build a unified picture.

“By declaring measurement independence, we can build a new, global currency that reflects consumer behaviour accurately and values content fairly. We can level up the playing field with more datasets and multiple yardsticks for multiple kinds of impact,” said Abcarian.

“For our part, NBCUniversal is bringing together a broad network of trusted partners to help modernize the industry’s approach. We’re in the process of assembling a full suite of interoperable measurement solutions that are as advanced, diverse, easy-to-use, and multi-platform as the ways people watch content. And we’ll share more updates on the steps we’re taking in the next few weeks.”

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