Nielsen Scores Critical Accreditation Renewal

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Nielsen knows a thing or two about cancellations and renewals. It just never expected to be living life as a reboot.

Some 19 months after seeing its key accreditation canceled by the Media Rating Council (MRC), the television rating agency scored a renewal Monday. But is it enough to return Nielsen to its primetime glory days?


Like the indecipherable later seasons of Lost, Nielsen lost the plot somewhere along the way. The rating agency had long been the gold standard of tracking TV viewer habits, until viewer habits completely shifted, leaving Nielsen in the analog stone age. Networks, who rely in part on Nielsen ratings to sell ads, had long griped that the agency failed to adequately track viewers watching streams and simulcasts on non-TV devices.

Tensions between Nielsen and TV networks finally boiled over in the Spring of 2021, after an audit of the agency’s metrics revealed that it undercounted audiences by as much as 6% for nearly a whole year. In September of that year, the MRC stripped Nielsen of its accreditation. Though back on the air, the former industry standard now faces plenty of competition that popped up in its absence:

  • Last year, Paramount and Warner Bros. Discovery both announced they would offer ad buyers measurements from Nielsen alternatives VideoAmp, Comscore, and iSpot.tv.
  • Those two studios as well as Fox, NBCUniversal, and TelevisaUnivision launched a joint industry committee earlier this year. Its goal is to vet and certify a whole slew of new audience-measurement technologies that can serve as a key and transparent system for advertisement relations — which is increasingly important as digital platforms embrace advertising in addition to subscriptions.

Think Local: The MRC’s decision Monday, crucially, applied only to Nielsen’s national TV tracking. It did not reinstate Nielsen’s local-market TV measurement license after concluding the agency has not done enough to improve audience-measurement technologies in the space. In other words, there’s no unified metric for tracking who’s watching the local weatherman.