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CBS Confirms Nielsen Dispute, Considering Alternate Ratings Service

CBS Confirms Nielsen Dispute, Considering Alternate Ratings Service

In the days since CBS Corporation and Nielsen failed to reach an agreement over terms on a new contract, valued at $100 million annually with the last contract, the house of the “NFL on CBS,” “The Big Bang Theory,” “The Young and the Restless” and “The Bold and the Beautiful” might soon be saying bye-bye to the ratings service.

“The entire media industry is aware of the need for complete and accurate measurement across platforms. While Nielsen has made some strides in this area, progress has not been what we and many clients would like, and local TV measurement is particularly challenged,” CBS said in a statement acknowledging the contract dispute with Nielsen. “Despite this backdrop, Nielsen continues to use their market power to bundle disparate services and raise prices for services that don’t sufficiently address ongoing changes in the industry. As a result, we are currently at a contractual impasse, although we continue to be open to negotiating a fair deal that makes strategic and financial sense for CBS. If we cannot come to an agreement with Nielsen, we will continue to employ the many viable alternatives available to us, including Comscore.”

“We have an open negotiation with CBS and expect to arrive at a mutually beneficial agreement,” a Nielsen spokesperson said in a statement yesterday. But with CBS now saying they might pursue alternatives, it doesn’t look like a deal is anywhere close to being hammered out.

CBS’ argument is that Nielsen does not adequately track how viewers watch its programming and that it shouldn’t be paying more for services it isn’t getting. The company also reiterates that it sells most of its primetime ad inventory on a C7 basis (commercials + 7 days of viewing), which gives a broader view of how its programs are doing compared to the current standard of Live+SD or C3 (commercials + 3 days of viewing) since viewers have been widely adopting out-of-home viewing and using alternative devices to keep themselves entertained, including smartphones, smart TVs and tablets.

With the network gearing up for Super Bowl LIII next month, a deal with Nielsen would be most helpful, albeit not required. CBS reportedly knows that it can get the Nielsen info elsewhere despite the ratings service warning companies not to provide their info to non-Nielsen clients, which CBS is currently.

CBS possibly moving towards Comscore would cause a dramatic shift in the television industry, which is likely to start a chain reaction once Nielsen’s deals with other broadcasters come up for renewal.

ComScore acquired measurement service Rentrak in 2016 which rivals Nielsen in measuring viewership and other services.

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