New York — July 14, 2010 — The Nielsen Company announced that the Media Rating Council (MRC), the industry group that audits media research companies, has voted to grant accreditation to all 25 of its Local People Meter markets. As part of the annual audit/accreditation process, the original ten LPM markets had their original accreditation renewed, while the remaining fifteen markets were granted accreditation for the first time. As a result, the local ratings for the largest 25 markets in the , representing 49% of the population and 64% of local commercial TV ad spend, will now bear the MRC’s accreditation logo. This decision follows a similar MRC vote to renew accreditation for our national ratings service.
“Nielsen and the MRC share a commitment to improving measurement quality and by working together on this common goal we have achieved continuous improvement in our television ratings,” said Sabrina Crow, Nielsen SVP and Managing Director, Local Client Television Services. “Today our quality metrics are better than they’ve ever been.”
The process of accrediting Nielsen’s Local People Meter markets has been long and complex. The MRC identified several areas where Nielsen could work together to ensure that its Active/Passive (A/P) meter, designed to measure digital television, accurately captures all viewing. Nielsen started introducing the A/P meter in stages several years ago and finished the process last year, when the entire television industry switched to digital signals. In response to feedback from the MRC and to uphold its own commitment to make sure that this meter is delivering the highest-quality ratings, Nielsen developed “The A/P Meter Improvement Program.” This program recently included several new and important initiatives:
1. Household CodeCheck: Nielsen is establishing new processes under which Nielsen checks every A/P Meter in our sample homes to make sure it is picking up the optimum level of codes (i.e., “watermarks”), backed by signatures (i.e., digital “fingerprints”). If this new CodeCheck process identifies code detection problems Nielsen will take appropriate Field action and resolve the issue at the household level. This process improvement is already improving code detection in specific households receiving over-the-air transmissions.
2. Redundant monitoring sites: Nielsen maintains monitoring sites in each market to capture the signatures for all local client television programming. Nielsen has established back-up sites for all local client stations in each market to ensure that it can continue to collect signatures even if one site is temporarily out of commission. Nielsen has also made a multi-million dollar investment in redundant signal monitoring for broadcast and cable networks, and will bring a new state-of-the art satellite monitoring facility on line in July of this year, This facility, located in Lebanon, Ohio, will provide a duplication of the facility that currently operates in Nielsen’s Tampa-area Global Technology and Information Center. The two facilities will be operated in parallel to provide full monitoring redundancy for national cable and broadcast ratings services.
3. Regular reports on code performance: Nielsen has begun delivering regular reports on the quality of the code utilization for each station in a market. This allows a station to verify its code performance on various signal paths in their market, compare across stations in the market, and observe code performance by daypart. These indicators can guide stations to investigate conditions that might reduce code performance and work with Nielsen to resolve these.
4. Identification of low-performing stations: Nielsen introduced new analytics and created a continuous survey of all markets (beginning with LPM markets) to identify stations that fall outside the normal range of code performance. In its first survey of the Local People Meter markets, Nielsen found 22 stations with indications of atypical code performance. Nielsen was able to take corrective actions, often in collaboration with station engineering departments, to improve their code delivery. These surveys will continue on a regular basis.
5. MSO reports: Nielsen is conducting regular analyses of how signals perform as they are retransmitted over cable systems. These surveys help Nielsen detect if code performance is being impaired by signal processing, such as compression, and help suggest corrective action with the cable operator.
6. The Nielsen Stream Analysis Tool (NSAT): Nielsen created a diagnostic tool to evaluate the transmitted audio signals from stations that switched to digital transmission last year to help them monitor and improve the quality of their audio processing. This is an additional tool to help Nielsen help stations optimize code performance.
7. All Other Tuning (AOT): Nielsen has undertaken several projects to identify the sources of All Other Tuning (tuning that is not credited to an identified viewing source), to reduce the level of AOT and to review crediting options to make the sources of AOT more clear.
“The MRC Television Committee, in particular, played a crucial role in helping us develop these initiatives to improve meter quality,” Crow added. “These steps have allowed us to achieve greater transparency with the television industry, which has led to more confidence among clients that Nielsen is doing everything possible to ensure that television ratings are comprehensive and accurate.”