October 15, 2014

Perhaps They Should Have Tested More - Nielsen

Perhaps Nielsen should have tested more

When ABC's "Dancing with the Stars" premiered this season, the show got a big bump in the ratings. Researchers for competing networks were skeptical, since two big television markets didn't even air the show, as it was pre-empted by a broadcast of a NFL Football game. copyrightjoestrazzere

When they contacted Nielsen, the company rechecked its methodology. They found that not only were those particular numbers inflated, but that months worth of ratings were incorrect, due to a software glitch introduced in March.

  • Nielsen controls almost all of the television ratings measurement market
  • On October 6, Nielsen discovered an error in their TV ratings, which had been present since March 2
  • Nielsen misattributed some viewership results
  • Errors resulted in incorrect data over a period of seven months
  • Advertisers and networks rely on Nielsen to provide the metrics used to conduct their ad sales business
  • The error wound up benefiting ABC, while negatively impacting others
  • Billions of dollars of advertising are based on Nielsen's ratings
  • Some television and advertising executives have called Nielsen's methodology antiquated
  • Some have questioned it's ability to measure the ways people currently watch television
  • Nielsen says it intends to recalibrate its ratings starting only from August 18
  • When the bug was made public, Nielsen's stock dropped, while that of a competitor went up 15 percent

Perhaps this black mark won't cause advertisers to rely more on competitors' products rather than Nielsen. Perhaps the ratings inaccuracies weren't enough to matter much in the long run. Perhaps there will never be another Dancing Star as good as Emmitt Smith. But perhaps Nielsen should have tested more.

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This article originally appeared in my blog: All Things Quality
My name is Joe Strazzere and I'm currently a Director of Quality Assurance.
I like to lead, to test, and occasionally to write about leading and testing.
Find me at http://AllThingsQuality.com/.

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