The upfront market may start rolling this week now that ABC has officially backed away from its fight to include viewing digital video recorders in calculating ratings in ad sales negotiations.
Disagreement over use of Nielsen's DVR ratings has been a central issue in this year's upfront negotiations. ABC ad sales chief Mike Shaw had been insisting that advertisers pay both for viewers watching a program live plus those who record it and watch it within seven days, the so-called "live plus seven" rating. Major ad buyers have uniformly insisted on paying only for live viewing, unwilling to pay even for shows that are Tivoed and replayed the same day ("live plus same-day" ratings). Other broadcast networks were generally agreed but were willing to let Shaw lead the charge. (CBS, however, has said for months that it woulnd't push the issue this year).
ABC says in a statement Monday that it will fight the fight later: "While the majority of the advertising community has reached a consensus on the Nielsen DVR ratings issue, and has concluded that that commercials seen during a DVR-recorded programming have no value, the ABC Television Network continues to believe strongly in the worth of the "Live Plus" viewer, and will continue its efforts to include this audience.