NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- The commercial-ratings debate is far from over. This week Nielsen Media Research fielded countless calls from networks and agencies alike in regards to the processing method for commercial ratings. After this year's broadcast upfront was negotiated almost entirely using the new currency of "C3," which measures who watched commercials live plus three additional days of time-shifted viewing, the idea was that more accountability would be brought to the TV-buying process.
But more accountability requires more patience, as buyers and networks now must wait up to four weeks for the results of their C3 ratings. Nielsen spokeswoman Anne Elliot said for the program week ending Sept. 30, the average commercial-minute data file is expected to be released on Monday, Oct. 22. If that seems long, it's only an additional week longer than it used to take to measure average program ratings, the previous Nielsen standard.
It should be noted that live program ratings are still available the next day via Nielsen's Fast Affiliate rankings, which give a snapshot of the size of the audience each network attracted for a certain time slot. When the industry negotiated on program ratings, that number gave advertisers a pretty good idea of how many people were available to see their ad. But with the industry's focus now on commercial ratings, it will be a four-week wait to find out if the audience stuck around for your spot.
Ms. Elliot said an extra week has been added due to the complexity of measuring each commercial individually. Once the data is released, clients will be able to see all six streams of measurement for each show, including C3. (Other streams include live, live plus same day, and live plus seven days, to accommodate all viewers using digital video recorders.)
"We've heard a lot of rational questions, a lot of very good points, and that's why we're listening to all of them and going through to try and figure out what makes the most sense going forward for the industry," Ms. Elliot said.
Nets add repeats
Although extra weight has been given to the DVR viewer who has the power to skip ads, Nielsen reported back in May that only 17% of the viewing population has a DVR-enabled home. As an alternative to reaching those who don't have the option of live-plus-three viewing, some broadcast networks are experimenting with adding repeats of new shows to their schedules to gain extra audience -- and, potentially through Nielsen, obtain an aggregate rating of both telecasts. NBC announced this week that it would add Saturday-night repeats of "Heroes" to its schedule to add an incremental rating to its initial Tuesday-night airing. What's still being considered, however, is how the average rating of the two airings can be delivered to networks and clients.
"The rebroadcast, in the way it's being processed, in no way delays the delivery of the average commercial minute rating," Ms. Elliot said. "This is a way for a broadcast network to provide an additional way to watch the program and commercials they've filled within that program. If you heard the buzz about the show on Tuesday but missed it and hadn't recorded it, you have another opportunity to watch it."