Nielsen regains Media Rating Council accreditation for national TV ratings

After a 19-month suspension, Nielsen has regained Media Rating Council (MRC) accreditation of its national TV ratings.

The industry group unveiled Monday that per the recommendation of the MRC TV Committee, it has reinstated accreditation of Nielsen’s National Television Audience Measurement (TAM) service. The restoration doesn’t include Nielsen’s Local Market Television ratings, which remain in accreditation suspension status.

In September 2021, the MRC suspended Nielsen’s national TV ratings along with the company’s Local People Meter and Set Meter Markets services, in part for underestimating traditional TV audiences during the pandemic.

The MRC at the time cited “material standards non-compliance or operational issues,” noting it had issued warnings to Nielsen in August 2021. Another concern the MRC flagged was Nielsen’s panel sizes were too small and inadequately maintained.

Last November, an MRC audit committee voted to keep Nielsen’s national TV ratings suspended, however MRC SVP and Associate Director David Gunzerath then stated Nielsen “has made significant progress on most of the issues that led to that suspension.”

“Nielsen has undertaken strong efforts to correct the issues that led to its loss of MRC accreditation 19 months ago and to restore key aspects of its panel performance,” stated MRC Executive Director and CEO George Ivie in Monday’s release. “The MRC’s audit has shown these efforts have been successful, and as a result, our TV committee and board agreed that accreditation should be reinstated.”

Despite Nielsen’s former lack of accreditation, Amazon last year tapped the vendor to measure full coverage of the Thursday Night Football broadcast. The deal marked the first time Nielsen’s national TV ratings measured a live program on a streaming service.

The MRC’s reinstatement also excludes the Digital in TV Ratings component of Nielsen’s TAM service, Nielsen’s Digital Ad Ratings and the Nielsen One cross-platform measurement product, which commercially launched in January.

Those services, along with Nielsen’s forthcoming integration of return path and automatic content recognition (ACR) data into the TAM service, are currently “in various stages of MRC audit and review,” said the MRC.

Ivie added there’s still more work to be done to ensure Nielsen’s national TV measurement continues “to meet our standards and the requirements of the industry.”

“Specifically, this includes ensuring that the future incorporation of Return Path and ACR Data demonstrates required compliance and transparency to maintain accreditation, continuance of Nielsen’s commitments to validate and improve its estimates of the level of Broadband-Only Households in the TAM service and enhancing the disclosures it provides to users about the variability associated with its estimates of television viewing,” he stated. “These latter two commitments were especially critical to our decision to re-apply accreditation at this time.”

Separately, Nielsen this month announced it now reports comparable metrics for local TV streaming feeds. The vendor will measure streamed local content that is not available on a station’s over-the-air channels or direct-to-cable station feeds.