Nielsen Ratings SNAFU, What Happened?

Categories: TV Advertising

Written By

May 7th, 2009

Summary for the rational: Nielsen has a very complicated system. Mistakes were made. Sorry. We're doing our best to correct them and make sure they don't happen again.

Summary for the crazy: Nielsen's process was built to undercount the ratings of your favorite shows while overcounting those of the shows you hate. Problem is, managing a conspiracy of that complexity is not an easy thing. This week our nefarious scheming was almost exposed. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

The news:

The national TV industry has come to a near halt this week due to a major SNAFU in one of Nielsen's core audience measurement systems. While data processing glitches are not unusual, the scope of this one, which caused serious delays affecting most of its national TV ratings this week, and especially its source - the system it uses to collect data for its TV ratings meters - is causing some havoc and raising new concerns about the security of Nielsen's national TV audience measurement system.

The cause:

"..., a firmware bug from the server manufacturer went undetected and caused a data collection stoppage over the weekend," Habib disclosed, adding, "In the course of fixing this issue, we uncovered a second defect on Monday which resulted in further performance degradation and delays."

The results:

Those delays have led to a near black out of national TV ratings reporting so far this week, and Habib said they have been further delayed on purpose, because Nielsen opted to have its scientists take additional time to analyze and "validate the integrity of the data" before releasing it for the week.

He said Nielsen anticipated being "fully back on schedule and caught up" on all its national TV ratings reporting by the end of the week.

More where that came from at MediaPost

 
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