New VAB Analysis Proves Nielsen’s Impaired Measurement
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New VAB Analysis Proves Nielsen’s Impaired Measurement

An illuminating look at the data

UPDATE, 5/6/21: As reported in Broadcasting & Cable and MediaPost, VAB has developed new analysis that proves claims of Nielsen’s impaired measurement. The analysis shows how TUT weekly reach began to quickly recover in April 2021 once Nielsen returned to in-field maintenance of their television panel and is at its highest level in the last ten months.

A statement from VAB President & CEO, Sean Cunningham: 

“In digging more deeply into Nielsen’s COVID data defects, a series of complications across maintenance, turnover, and replenishment of Nielsen’s TV household panel lead to an exaggerated and inaccurate depiction of 2020 COVID TV usage declines. The complications include a year-long suspension of in-home field servicing of empaneled households and extensive changes to household withholding procedures that resulted in 9,400 impaired/compromised homes to remain in Nielsen’s 2020 reported estimates to the market.

Nielsen’s late March 2021 decision to return to at-home servicing began with “fixing” these 9,400 impaired homes. Now, less than a month later the effects on Nielsen’s Total Homes Using Television (“TUT”) measure, which saw steady COVID period declines throughout 2020, have already started to reverse in April 2021  

For months, Nielsen has both denied and delayed the VAB’s repeated calls for reviews and transparency. While this recent reversal of its exaggerated 2020 TUT declines are an important start, it is only one piece of a much larger issue. The MRC audit, that is currently underway, is the right next step toward providing the advertising marketplace with meaningful insights and remedies to Nielsen’s 2020-2021 COVID TV currency audience estimates.” 

View content for updated analysis. 

Posted, 4/9/21

During that time, Nielsen field agents stopped entering homes, leading to an undercounting of overall TV viewing. On 4/8, VAB president and CEO, Sean Cunningham led a press briefing to illuminate the significant discrepancies on measurement and reporting.

  • The number of households or persons supplying “usable” information shrunk by 20%, from 36,957 average daily respondents in February 2020 to 29,456 in February 2021.

  • At the same time, the number of homes in the sample registering no TV viewing at all rose 120%. Normally homes not reporting any viewing would be pulled from the sample because the family is no longer there and replaced.

  • Even streamers using TV was down from 6.2% to 6.0% among 18 to 34 year olds.

“Nielsen has streaming declining among 18-34 in 2020 versus 2019. How could this possibly be true?” – Sean Cunningham

VAB is fiercely advocating for transparency and accuracy on behalf of our members, as well as marketers who rely upon fair and accurate reporting to base their buying strategies.

View content for an exclusive look at the data from the press briefing.

We will continue to update with future developments.

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