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Study Estimates Nielsen Undercounting Out-Of-Home Viewership Cost Networks $350 Million

“We now know that error is tracking towards 60 billion lost TV impressions and $700 million worth of TV ads that marketers couldn’t buy.”  

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In December, marketing research firm Nielsen admitted that it had been undercounting “out-of-home” audiences for national TV programming since monitoring that viewership in September 2020.

Nearly a month later, how much money Nielsen’s error cost TV networks in advertising revenue has been estimated by a different research firm. According to the Video Advertising Bureau (as reported by TheWrap), which represents the major TV networks for advertisers, $700 million worth of unsold ad time was lost because of Nielsen.

That number is based on 60 billion lost TV impressions, according to VAB’s research and a task force the firm hired to examine the out-of-home data Nielsen said it undercounted over a 16-month span.

During an eight-month period that from May to December 2021, VAB’s study determined that Nielsen didn’t count nearly 30 billion ad impressions. That resulted in more than $350 million in advertising that networks couldn’t sell.

You can view the VAB report here.

“The only thing worse than Nielsen’s admitted error of 65 consecutive weeks of undercounting TV viewing was their claim of ‘no impact to minimal impact’ from that blunder,“ said VAB president and CEO Sean Cunningham (via Broadcasting + Cable).

“We now know that error is tracking towards 60 billion lost TV impressions and $700 million worth of TV ads that marketers couldn’t buy because of Nielsen’s second admitted case of 2020-2021 pervasive undercounting.”  

Nielsen stood by its previous assessment that its error had little effect on TV networks’ revenue.

“We reviewed the information shared by the VAB today,” Nielsen said in a statement to TheWrap, “and while we acknowledge the understatement in a portion of our National out-of-home audiences, we stand by our prior statements that the magnitude of the issue was very small for the majority of telecasts.”

Those findings likely won’t appease TV network executives who were already unhappy with Nielsen for delaying its rollout of out-of-home viewership measure. Nielsen cited the COVID-19 pandemic as the reason for the delay, but it looks more apparent that Nielsen knew it wasn’t ready to count out-of-home numbers properly.

Last August, Discovery president and CEO David Zaslav publicly criticized Nielsen in an investor call.

“I don’t have a lot of hope for Nielsen,” Zaslav said, according to the New York Times. “I think somehow, as an industry, we’re just going to have to work our way out of it from a technology perspective and leave them in the dust.”

VAB’s study quantifying a $700 million loss in ad revenue is sure to increase such a sentiment.

Sports TV News

Poll Data Shows Tepid Response To Tom Brady Joining FOX

“A recent Harris Poll conducted on behalf of Front Office Sports showed that 1 in 3 Americans are more likely to watch a game with Brady on the microphone.”

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FOX Sports reportedly signed Tom Brady to a 10-year deal worth $375 million to make the seven-time Super Bowl champion the new lead analyst for its top NFL broadcast once his playing career is over.

A recent Harris Poll conducted on behalf of Front Office Sports showed that 1 in 3 Americans are more likely to watch a game with Brady on the microphone.

The poll said 2 in 5 NFL fans have a better opinion of FOX Sports following the deal, with 41% of NFL fans being at least somewhat more likely to watch a game with Brady as an analyst.

Data shows one-third of NFL fans think the deal Brady reportedly agreed to is worth about the same as its reported value.

That reaction could probably be described as “tepid”. That may be exactly what FOX expects and maybe all it wants.

Last week, Domonique Foxworth of ESPN suggested that the paycheck is less about what the network thinks Tom Brady means to viewers and more about showing the NFL that the network values its product.

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Sports TV News

FOX Not Interested In Joining Streaming Sports Wars

“All this fight that’s going on, sort of gladiatorial kind of bloodshed, is really for that last position, right, in the three to four services that people will take?”

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The CEO of FOX doesn’t plan on forking over billions of dollars to be people’s last choice for paid streaming services.

Lachlan Murdoch said at a time when more than 80% of American homes already have some kind of paid streaming service, it’s not worthwhile to jump on that train.

Amazon, Netflix and Disney+ typically account for the average streaming presence in a household.

“All this fight that’s going on, sort of gladiatorial kind of bloodshed, is really for that last position, right, in the three to four services that people will take,” Murdoch said at a tech conference earlier this year. “And so the billions of dollars that’s being spent by multiple aspirants is all for that last position. And so we are extraordinarily — I want to say that — we’re happy to be sort of sitting on the sidelines.”

Murdoch told Benjamin Swinburne that when it comes to the NFL, FOX’s media rights are the same as CBS, NBC and ESPN. The main focus for the company remains on keeping games on TV.

“We don’t believe it helps us to put those rights under a streaming service or free on over-the-air. We think it’s very important that those rights remain exclusive to the broadcast environment,” Murdoch said.

FOX does stream games through its app, but it is only the games it is also carrying on its broadcast network or FS1.

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Sports TV News

NBA Draft To Get Simulcast From ESPN & ABC

“This follows the simulcast model ESPN and ABC have employed for several years with the NFL Draft.”

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ESPN is set for the 2022 NBA Draft coming up on June 23 at 8 p.m. from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The network announced Wednesday the crews that will handle coverage on both ESPN and ABC.

ABC will broadcast the first round in primetime. Kevin Negandhi will host and will be joined by Stephen A. Smith, Chiney Ogwumike and Jalen Rose. Monica McNutt will be reporting and interviewing draftees.

This follows the simulcast model ESPN and ABC have employed for several years with the NFL Draft.

Malika Andrews will host both rounds for ESPN. Jay Bilas, Kendrick Perkins and Adrian Wojnarowski will share the set. Analysts Bobby Marks and Mike Schmitz will contribute.

“We’re thrilled that Malika Andrews will host this year’s ESPN presentation as she brings her well-documented, widespread skillset to our main set,” said David Roberts, head of NBA and Studio Production for ESPN. “The event will showcase the scope and depth of our NBA and college basketball talent roster with accomplished journalists and high-profile personalities across ESPN, ABC and ESPN Radio.”

ESPN will air a pre-draft red carpet show hosted by Cassidy Hubbarth from 5-6 p.m. Perkins and Richard Jefferson will also make appearances.

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