Nielsen Delays Wide Release of Total Content Ratings, Doesn't Set a New Target Date

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Nielsen won't release a syndicated product of its Total Content Ratings as it originally planned on March 1.

At a meeting between the ratings behemoth and clients on Friday, the parties agreed to let March 1 pass without releasing the new multi-platform TV ratings widely.

The syndicated product, which would show the public the results of cross-platform measurement for every network that implemented the technology, will have to wait. No new target date to syndicate the data was established.

"We are reassessing the syndicated product and are planning for it at some point in the future," said Jessica Hogue, senior VP-product leadership, Nielsen.

All sides of the TV industry are closely watching Nielsen's effort to deliver a new ratings system that counts all viewing no matter where it takes place, including streaming platforms and mobile devices, in the hopes that they will rediscover some of the consumers that have disappeared each year from traditional TV audiences. But that goal continues to elude them.

Networks that want to release Total Content Ratings to ad buyers or the press can do so starting March 1, Ms. Hogue said. So a network will be able to publicize data on its own shows if it so chooses. But the ad industry won't necessarily have equivalent data from other networks with which to make comparisons.

Nielsen is delaying the syndicated product in response to certain network executives' request to hold off on making the data public. There are at least some, however, that do want to let outside parties see their data. By allowing networks that wish to release data to do so, Nielsen can appease both sides.

Nielsen had originally intended to make a TCR accessible to agencies on Jan. 1. But network executives pushed back, saying the data was not ready for agencies to use to evaluate budgets as the annual upfront ad-buying season nears. Networks have said they are concerned over TCR's methodology and the labor required to deploy its technology.

In December, NBC Universal's Linda Yaccarino sent a letter to Nielsen executives asking them to delay the release of Total Content Ratings. In the letter, Ms. Yaccarino, chairman-advertising sales and client partnerships at NBCU, said that the Total Content Ratings product in its current form "lacks the consistency and transparency the marketplace demands and expects from Nielsen."

In response, Nielsen has been allowing networks to cherry-pick the data they make available to agencies, instead of giving agencies full access to data.

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