Nielsen won’t play in Peoria

Will Nielsen ratings play in Peoria?

Not anymore. Peoria-Bloomington’s commercial television stations have recently told the ratings service to take a hike.

According to this TVNewscheck story, the downstate market’s two owners – Nextstar and Granite – has ditched Nielsen as their main television ratings provider.

Instead, the stations are replacing the service with “qualitative research and smart sales promotion” (or in other words, some firm calling up your house and asking you what you are watching.)

The market’s stations – Nexstar’s WMBD (CBS) and co-managed WYZZ (Fox) and Granite’s WEEK (NBC) and co-managed WHOI (ABC) and WAOE (My Net) – are standing up to the monolipistic giant, fed up with expensive fees and not seeing any real return from them.

Instead, they plan to sell advertisers on independent research they have conducted, plus data from companies like Media Audit and Simmons. The stations then uses the data collected to create sales proposals for local retailers and other clients.

Nielsen will continue to survey the Peoria-Bloomington market and provide information to PBS affiliate WTVP and Comcast.

As the 116th-largest market, Peoria still relies on a diary-only rating system, where viewers write in what shows thery are watching and send it in to Nielsen, and this is only four times a year. Larger markets (mainly those 60th and larger) have either metered market household ratings, or local people meters, which also measure demo information on an overnight basis.

And many stations from other markets – from as large as Los Angeles – are sitting up and taking notice. Many complain the new local people meter system are undercounting certain demo groups, and is too expensive. In April, Fox affiliate WSVN in Miami sued Nielsen for “unlawful conduct” , i.e. claiming the ratings giant had abused its powers as a monopoly and claiming its data is flawed and of course, too costly. The suit alleges the local people meter system isn’t working.

Nielsen became the lone man standing after Arbitron exited the television ratings measuring business at the end of 1993.

Thought: Yours truly’s gripe with Nielsen’s national prime-time ratings system is this: in the morning comes overnight metered household ratings from 56 markets; then comes the fast nationals, which measures demos and time-period data only and not the shows; then late in the afternoon comes the final numbers, which break down the program’s final hosuehold ratings, total viewers, and demos.

Got all that? No? Neither do I. Can anyone tell me why we need three seperate sets of ratings every day? It does not make any sense. No wonder stations in Peoria have dumped Nielsen. Too costly, too confusing, too ridicolous. Nielsen better sit up and take notice of what Peoria-Bloomington is doing before they have a full-scale revolt on their hands.