ANA, 4A's, Buyers and Sellers Meet with Nielsen to Discuss Local Television Ratings

ANA, 4A's, Buyers and Sellers Meet with Nielsen to Discuss Local Television Ratings
Industry parties debate issue, discuss options moving forward;
ANA, 4A's hope to continue discussions

New York, NY - Fulfilling a request made by Nielsen in response to industry criticism of the plan to eliminate the Live Only data stream, ANA (Association of National Advertisers) and the 4A's convened a meeting to discuss local television ratings with representatives of both industry trade associations, Nielsen, buyers and sellers on January 15, 2010.

In the 4th quarter of 2009, Nielsen announced a plan to modify the reporting data streams made available in local markets.  Nielsen plans to eliminate the Live Only data stream from overnights and electronic data files in early 2010 and replace that with the new Live + Same Day stream.  There would then be three data streams available to advertisers: Live + Same Day, Live + 3 Days, and Live + 7 Days, known as "plus" streams. 

The ANA and 4A's came out and opposed the elimination of the Live Only stream and requested that it be retained.  In response, Nielsen agreed to maintain the Live stream through the 1st quarter of 2010 and meet with representatives of buyers and sellers to discuss during that time.

The Debate
Buyers (advertisers and agencies) explained at the meeting that it is critical to recognize that local ratings are based on program ratings and not commercial ratings.  The "plus" streams include program viewing in DVR playback but do not recognize commercial skipping during that playback.  It is the strong belief of the buyers that ratings would be significantly overstated as a result.  The buying community at the meeting appeared willing to give up either the Live + Same Day or the Live + 3 Days stream in order to keep the Live Only stream.

Meanwhile, a number of sellers in the meeting stated that the Live Only stream fails to accurately record viewership, given that the continuing increase in DVR penetration means that more and more viewers watch programs outside of the initial broadcast time period.

Moving Forward
Given that three local reporting data streams can be produced by Nielsen, the comments of the buyers at the meeting emphasized that it is reasonable to request that one of these streams be Live Only.  Advertisers and agencies appear to have no issue with the other two streams being "plus" streams, but believe that having all three be "plus" streams seems to be unfair and unnecessary. 

At the end of the meeting, Nielsen announced that its current plan remains to cancel the Live Only stream at the end of Q1 2010.  4A's and ANA urge Nielsen to reconsider that decision, and are prepared to reconvene the industry to continue discussions on this critical measurement issue.

The full report of the meeting can be found at

About the ANA
Founded in 1910, the ANA (Association of National Advertisers) leads the marketing community by providing its members with insights, collaboration, and advocacy. ANA's membership includes 350+ companies with 9,000 brands that collectively spend over $250 billion in marketing communications and advertising. The ANA strives to communicate marketing best practices, lead industry initiatives, influence industry practices, manage industry affairs, and advance, promote, and protect all advertisers and marketers.

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About the 4A's
The American Association of Advertising Agencies is the national trade association of the advertising agency business. The 1,196 member agency offices it serves in the United States employ 65,000 people, offer a wide range of marketing communications services, and place 80 percent of all national advertising. The management-oriented association helps its members build their businesses, and acts as the industry's spokesman with government, media, and the public sector.

Press Contacts:
Lesley Neadel
CooperKatz & Co. for the ANA                      
(917) 595-3034

Megan Burke
CooperKatz & Co. for the ANA
(917) 595-3058                                     

Kipp Cheng
(212) 850-0720