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Nielsen Expanding Local-Market Sample Sizes

By | Wednesday May 28, 2014 @ 7:57pm PDT

Nielsen-Logo-Color1The TV ratings giant said today that it will boost the sample size in 15 of its Local People Meter markets, including LA and NYC. Nielsen said its goal is to “increase the stability of the ratings and add utility for customers by improving representation for hard-to-reach demographics.” Starting this year, the company will increase its LA and NYC sample by 300 homes and by 200 in Dallas, Washington, D.C., Houston, Miami and Denver. Next year, it will expand sampling by 200 homes each in Charlotte, St. Louis, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Boston, Atlanta, and Phoenix — an increase of 30% for those markets. Nielsen also will expand the sample by 200 homes in each of its 31 set meter markets during the next two years, which will increase the sample size in those areas by nearly 50%. “Nielsen is committed to continuous improvement of quality local television measurement now and into the future,” said Matt O’Grady, EVP and Managing Director Local Media. “With this supplemental expansion, our local media clients will see increased stability through expanded metered samples and electronic measurement to diary markets that never had metered samples.”

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Nielsen Completes Arbitron Acquisition

By | Monday September 30, 2013 @ 6:31am PDT

NEW YORK, NY, September 30, 2013 – Nielsen Holdings N.V. (NYSE: NLSN), a leading global provider of information and insights into what consumers watch and buy, today announced that it has successfully completed its acquisition of Arbitron Inc., an international media and marketing research firm.

“This is a great day for Nielsen and a natural step in our evolution,” said Nielsen Chief Executive Officer David Calhoun. “Arbitron will allow us to analyze and understand an additional two hours of the U.S. consumer’s day while bringing us another opportunity to provide advertisers with metrics on the effectiveness of the mediums that they advertise on.”

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Will Nielsen’s New Mobile TV Viewing Ratings Plan Satisfy Skeptics?

By | Thursday September 19, 2013 @ 6:32pm PDT

Advertising and network execs say that they’ve already waited too long for the ratings colossus to figure out how to measure the growing number of people who watch TV shows on smartphones and tablets. No surprise, then, that many clients — and investors — are eager to hear the details next week when, according to the Wall Street Journal and Variety, Nielsen will disclose plans to start measuring mobile viewing in fall 2014. Some answers may depend on Nielsen’s negotiations with the Federal Trade Commission to win its approval for the company’s $1.26B deal to buy Arbitron. Nielsen said that Arbitron has assets that could help with out-of-home measurements, including the Portable People Meter that enables networks led by ESPN to account for viewers who aren’t planted in front of the living room TV. Read More »

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Nielsen Co. Sued For Fixing Ratings For Bribes In India

By | Monday July 30, 2012 @ 4:21pm PDT

India’s New Delhi Television Limited has sued The Nielsen Co for manipulating ratings data in favor of broadcasters that pay bribes. Filing the intricate suit (Read it here) in New York’s Supreme Court, the subcontinent’s largest and oldest news network is seeking billions of dollars from the ratings company. With 42 counts, NDTV says it was made to look like less people were watching than actually were and suffered because of it didn’t pay bribes. “Nielsen’s wrongdoings, including, but not limited to, negligence, gross negligence, false representations, prima facie tort and negligence per se (based on violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and the Dutch Corporate Governance Code), have had catastrophic effects on customers, on the television industry, on advertisers and on and viewers in the US and overseas,” said the 194-page suit filed on July 26.  NDTV wants $580 million for negligence, a minimum of $810 million for fraud and millions more on a variety of other causes of action including legal fees.

The plaintiff says that “the Nielsen Board of Directors, as proxies for the world’s largest and most powerful group of corporate takeover specialists (referred to herein and in Nielsen’s 2011 Annual Report as ‘Sponsors’)” took this approach to ”’cash out,’ as part of the typical leveraged buyout ‘exit strategy,’ making billions of dollars in profits.” The suit lists the said “sponsors” … Read More »

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Nickelodeon’s Ratings Decline Is No “Blip”; Is Viacom Or Nielsen To Blame?

Looks like that “inexplicable drop” in Nickelodeon ratings from September that Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman noted in a November 10 conference call with analysts still bedevils the children’s network. Its full-day total audience was down 16.7% in the week of November 20. That gave Disney Channel its first victory over Nickelodeon since August 2007, when Disney introduced High School Musical 2. Nick’s audience of kids 11 and under was off 11% in September vs the same month last year, -17% in October, and -19% for the first three weeks of November. The reports worried Miller Tabak analyst David Joyce enough for him to downgrade Viacom to “neutral” from “buy.” He notes that “advertisers are going to want to pay for the lower Nielsen ratings, which could be resulting in make-goods … that could pressure ad revenue” in the current quarter.

It’s curious, though: When Dauman spoke to analysts early this month, he made it sound like the trouble at Nick was history: He called it “a short-term phenomenon,” adding that “I always believe in looking forward, so we’ll go through that blip, it’s not material to overall company and we will move on.” He also put the blame on Nielsen’s measurements — not Nick’s programming — noting that “independent set-top box data … shows meaningfully different viewership trends.” Read More »

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Number Of TV Households Drops

By | Tuesday May 3, 2011 @ 10:44am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

The Nielsen universe is shrinking. Just in time for the upfronts, where TV networks sell advertisers means to reach potential TV viewers, Nielsen announced that the number of those potential TV viewers has dropped for the first time in two decades. The latest data released today shows that 96.7% of U.S. homes own a TV set, down from 98.9% last year. There are now 114.7 million TV homes, compared to 115.9 million in 2010. Nielsen notes that the last dip in the number of TV homes came in 1992, when the country was also in a recession, and it was temporary. The current economic woes are one hypothesis for the decline as low-income homes – particularly in rural markets – can no longer afford TV sets. As cynical as it may sound, advertisers likely wouldn’t care much about that. But another possible reason for the drop — that college graduates or other young people entering the workforce don’t buy a TV set as they may be watching TV on their computer or shun TV altogether for other forms of digital entertainment — will probably deeply concern them.

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EXCLUSIVE DEADLINE LIST: Media Moguls With Out-Of-Whack Pay Compensation

EXCLUSIVE: This is exactly the kind of information that shareholders of Big Media need to know but rarely see. It’s considered a red flag when any public company pays one of its bigwigs – usually the CEO – three times more than the average for the four other top executives which the SEC requires them to list. So I’ve taken proxy statements and done the computations and discovered that at least 16 of 35 companies failed that test. Often miserably. Nearly half of the media company compensation packages disclosed so far for 2010 show a startling degree of hero-worship as boards of directors pay their top dogs sums that far exceed what the pay was for other top execs in the company.

Stock grants accounted for big chunks of the compensation for those who top this list, including Discovery Communications CEO David Zaslav, Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman, DirecTV CEO Michael White, Nielsen CEO David Calhoun, and CBS chief Les Moonves. Radio station owner Entercom was off the charts: CEO David Field’s $9.1 million compensation was modest by media company standards but still 25.4 times bigger than average for the company’s other four executives. It includes $7.9 million from stock grants that only pay off if Entercom shares rise to hit certain target prices.

Still, corporate governance experts who focus on what’s often called “CEO centrality” say that an out-of-whack pay package is bad news for shareholders. It indicates that the board of directors may be in the pocket of a CEO – or believes he or she has near super-human power to help the company succeed.  In either case, the board is likely to give the CEO all the credit when things go well, and blame others when they go badly. Research shows that usually hurts the stock price over time.

I’ll track this and other measures of lop-sided pay as other media companies release information for 2010. But there are a few things to keep in mind: The SEC reporting rules only cover the top-paid executives of publicly traded U.S. companies. That means we probably won’t know how much privately held Hearst pays CEO Frank Bennack, or how much Japan’s Sony pays CEO Howard Stringer. It also means that we’ll miss a lot of highly paid people who work at subsidiaries of a big company; Universal Studios’ Ron Meyer may be a big deal in Hollywood, but he was a relatively small fish last year at parent company General Electric. 

To make comparisons in our list here as fair as possible, we looked at the compensation for the five most highly paid employees for 2010. Sometimes companies report the pay for more than five people — for example, when a top executive is replaced during the year a corporation will include the incoming and outgoing person’s compensation. And the pay data given the SEC can spike in a year when an executive cashes in stock or collects deferred compensation. So here’s how the companies stack up, with the top paid executive’s 2010 reported compensation and comparison to the average (median) pay for the four other highest-paid honchos:

1. Entercom: David Field. The son of company founder Joseph Field became CEO in 2002, about 15 years after leaving his job as an investment banker at Goldman Sachs. Field made $9.1 million last year – the total of his $791,723 salary, $444,308 bonus, $7.9 million in stock, and $28,000 in other perks including medical insurance premiums. That’s a 348% raise in a year when company shares appreciated 53.2%. Though considered a strong operating executive, his salary stands out because it’s 25.4 times higher than the $358,692 average for the four other top executives listed in Entercom’s proxy statement. Field’s salary and the $3.9 million paid to CFO Stephen Fisher accounted for 93% of the $14 million that Entercom paid to its top five executives. Read More »

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