After six months of negotiations, CBS and Nielsen failed to reach a new contract agreement on Monday, December 31, which has put media buyers in a conundrum.
According to industry sources, CBS’ lack of a deal with Nielsen means that the company is now without access to current or historical data from the ratings service, which includes performance numbers for such highly rated series as “The Big Bang Theory,” “NCIS,” “The Young and the Restless” and “The Bold and the Beautiful.” This specifically harms the network when it comes to determining how much it can charge an advertiser based on available ad inventory, although advertisers who have access to Nielsen’s measurements will still be able to see how CBS programs perform each day, essentially putting the power in the advertiser’s hands during the dispute.
Reportedly, CBS is playing hardball over Nielsen’s demand to be paid more for the service it provides amid increased competition between broadcasters and streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu and Amazon — services that do not need Nielsen to track audiences when dealing with advertisers. The most recent contract between the companies was valued at around $100 million each year and CBS wants to make sure that it’s getting its money’s worth, particularly when it comes to capturing delayed viewership and out-of-home viewing.
For its part, Nielsen notes that it increased its measurement data to include SVOD Content Ratings and Out-of-Home some time ago, and that its offer to CBS is the same that Hearst Television and Raycom Media agreed to during their recent contract negotiations.
CBS counters Nielsen’s argument by reiterating 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). 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 is said to be considering its options and is interested in offerings provided by Nielsen rival comScore, which acquired measurement service Rentrak in 2016.
“We have an open negotiation with CBS and expect to arrive at a mutually beneficial agreement,” a Nielsen spokesperson said in a statement published by AdWeek earlier today. The two sides are said to still be actively negotiating on a new contract, which Nielsen says could cost CBS more than $500 million in lost ad revenue if no deal is made. CBS, however, believes it’ll save the company $120 million in the process.
Based on Nielsen’s measurements, CBS has been claiming to be America’s most-watched network for 10 years straight and is currently on track to make it an 11th year, barring a long-term dispute with Nielsen. The network has been number one in daytime for 32 years.
Regardless of the outcome between Nielsen and CBS, daytime soap opera ratings, including that of “Y&R” and “B&B,” will continue being reported here on Soap Opera Network.