Nielsen TV ratings accreditation still suspended by Media Rating Council

Nielsen’s national TV ratings accreditation remains suspended by the Media Rating Council (MRC), but the industry organization said the measurement vendor has made progress on many of its issues.

News of Nielsen’s continued suspension came via an Adweek report, based on a letter sent by the MRC to its clients and viewed by the news outlet. According to Adweek, an MRC audit committee voted to keep Nielsen national TV ratings suspended and keep consideration of reinstating open.

Adweek’s report said that Nielsen will directly address results of the audit with the committee during a meeting that has been rescheduled from Monday to an unspecified date. The MRC will also give Nielsen a list of non-compliance situations, among other items, which will be used “to establish a timeframe to reestablish” the vendor’s accreditation, Adweek noted.

The MRC has not issued any official notification on keeping Nielsen’s ratings suspended. Reached by Fierce via email, MRC provided its statement in response to the Adweek report, which confirms Nielsen’s still suspended status while also saying it continues to work with the vendor towards consideration of reinstating the accreditation that was pulled in 2021.

“It is profoundly disappointing that someone has shared a confidential document that presents only one side of the story of our ongoing engagement on Nielsen’s National TV service,” said David Gunzerath, SVP and Associate Director of the MRC. “While it is true the existing suspension of MRC accreditation remains in place at the current time, it is also true that we believe Nielsen has made significant progress on most of the issues that led to that suspension, and MRC continues to actively work with Nielsen on a path to address the remaining issues so that a consideration of reinstatement of accreditation to the National TV service may occur relatively soon.”

The Media Rating Council in September last year suspended the measurement company’s National Television, Local People Meter and Set Meter Markets services, in part for underestimating traditional TV audiences during the pandemic. That decision came after warnings were issued to Nielsen in August of last year.

In a statement at the time, the MRC pointed to “material standards non-compliance or operational issues,” and specifically called out Nielsen’s move to add broadband-only households to its local markets.

In a September 2021 open letter from Nielsen CEO David Kenny about the suspension, he said the primary areas that MRC cited and Nielsen needs to fix to restore accreditation involved: panel size and maintenance to return to target levels, stronger business continuity and recovery processes along with testing, and more transparent and clear processes for recording and communicating any changes in methods.

At the time major media companies also voiced concerns, such as a statement from Disney provided to Deadline last year saying it had “become increasingly concerned with inaccuracies and irregularities in the data reported by Nielsen.”

In December 2021, Nielsen informed TV networks and other clients that since September 2020 it had undercounted “out-of-home” audiences for national TV programming, placing the blame on software issues, according to Variety.

Since the accreditation was pulled, Nielsen has worked to shift towards more impression-based measurement. The latest news of its status with the MRC comes as the measurement company is preparing to launch Nielsen One in December, its cross-platform solution.

Still as Nielsen has taken a hit, a breed of newer companies are looking to carve out names for themselves in the measurement space, alongside the media and advertising industry’s interest in new currencies.

iSpot is one of those vendors, and just today announced leading a $16 million investment round in startup TVision, the latter which developed its own person-level panel that measures co-viewing across linear and CTV.