Nielsen Says It Undercounted Out of Home Viewers for More Than a Year

Nielsen reportedly undercounted certain out-of-home viewers over the whole time period.

The firm, which has come under fire from networks and ad buyers for suspected undercounting of viewers during the early phases of the COVID-19 outbreak, claimed that the problem is due to a technical glitch.

“As part of routine testing and quality controls, we recently identified an error that caused an understatement of reported out-of-home audiences for our national TV service,” reads a statement from Nielsen. 

“While there is no impact to most telecasts, and no impact to local television, we did find some variances for events that tend to yield larger out-of-home audiences, such as live sporting events. The error has been corrected and Nielsen will be reissuing data from September 2020 to present in order to provide the industry with the most complete data,” Nielsen added. 

People who watch a particular show away from home include those who watch it at a bar, a workplace, a hotel, or any other location that is not their permanent abode. 

Almost every program benefits from out-of-home viewing, but it’s more evident for live sports and event telecasts, which are also among the most popular on broadcast and cable networks.

The disclosure of the undercount came as Nielsen confronted increasing industry pressure to alter its rating product for the streaming age. 

The Media Rating Council revoked Nielsen’s certification for national TV ratings in September after receiving concerns from customers about the business allowing its national panel to degrade during the epidemic, potentially undercounting TV audiences.

The Video Advertising Bureau, a trade body that has been one of Nielsen’s harshest opponents, said in September that it would organize a task force to investigate measuring advances. NBCUniversal has issued a request for submissions for new rating systems.


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