Nets, Advertisers Ready to Take On Nielsen

The networks may finally be getting serious about challenging Nielsen’s monopoly on TV ratings.


Frustrated by the ratings giant’s well-documented difficulties in measuring audiences, the Financial Times is reporting that a group of top media conglomerates and advertisers have formed a consortium designed to develop alternatives to Nielsen.


Participants in the consortium include Time Warner, News Corp., Viacom, CBS Corp., the Walt Disney Co., NBC Universal and Discovery Communications, the FT said.


On the ad side, Procter & Gamble, AT&T and Unilver are on board as well, the newspaper reported. Starcom MediaVest and GroupM are also behind the plan.


Reps for several networks declined comment on the FT report. Insiders at several companies confirmed the general veracity of the article, though one cautioned that final deals among the consortium members have not been signed. As a result, it’s possible some of the companies listed by the FT might end up not participating.


The FT said the new consortium will begin awarding contracts to potential Nielsen rivals as early as this fall.


Networks have stepped up their public complaints about Nielsen recently, galled by recent statements by the company admitting to significant errors in measurement. Just last month, the company conceded it had improperly measured five NFL games, according to Broadcasting & Cable.


And in June, the company fessed up to bad numbers for ABC’s "World News."