Saturday, June 11, 2005

Dumping Nielson

Source: Broadcasting and Cable Turned off by high fees and faulty service, TV-station owners in small markets are going without ratings, and that includes KNWA and KARK in Arkansas.

Pretty good article by B and C's Allison Romano on how the ratings are getting dumped by small TV stations. There is a quote from KNWA General Manager Blake Russell. Here's what Russell has to say about the Nielson ratings:

“People don't think the world can exist without Nielsen, but it can,” says General Manager Blake Russell. “We live in a world of estimates now. Why should I pay for something that is flawed?”
The article goes on to say,"At least three dozenstations in cities from Little Rock, Ark., the No. 59 market, to Wichita Falls, Texas, the No. 143 market, are canceling their Nielsen subscriptions."

"The stations say new technology—such as the data gleaned from digital cable boxes—promises to one day complement or replace Nielsen ratings. For the moment, though, they are content to resort to cheaper methods they say are just as efficient, from compiling local survey data to polling viewers"

Then the article on to say how one broadcasting group in particular is or has canceled their accounts with Nielson altogether: "The latest wave of protest is led by Nexstar Broadcasting, which owns and operates 46 stations in 27 small and midsize markets. Over the past several years, the company has been whittling down its Nielsen accounts. Only three Nexstar markets—Springfield, Mo., Lubbock, Texas, and Hagerstown, Md.—still buy Nielsen data, and, when their deals expire, they will not renew, says Senior VP Brian Jones. That will make Nexstar the only major station group to spurn Nielsen altogether. Jones cites Nielsen's high prices and rate increases as the reasons for the defections: “They placed a value on the product that we are not willing to pay.”

So what are the stations living without the Nielson data: "In place of Nielsen, stations have assembled qualitative data sources they consider viable alternatives. Some buy reports on their markets from Simmons Research, Media Audit and The Media Center. These surveys cover a range of topics, including buying habits, technology use and TV viewing. Unlike Nielsen, which asks its participants to record as they watch TV, these services ask viewers in phone interviews to recall what they have watched."

And since the stations don't pay for Nielson numbers they don't know what their ratings are right? WRONG: Although stations may not pay for Nielsen, they are hardly in the dark on their ratings. Advertising agencies that buy ratings see the data, as do the stations' competitors. Local newspapers and trade magazines often report selected results. Under copyright laws, however, the Nielsen-free stations are not permitted to use ratings in their sales proposals or materials. In interviews, most station execs declined to even discuss their market positions, although they surely know them.

Read the article. No Subscription needed!!

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