Nielsen Media Research is reformatting its local-market ratings data,
which it hopes to implement by the fourth quarter of 2003.
Among the bigger changes: reporting and delivering all of the broadcast and
cable ratings to clients at the same time on one computer file.
broadcast ratings are reported first, usually by a couple of weeks, which, cable executives have
complained, gives the broadcasters an unfair leg up in the sales process.
Ad buyers have also complained that having to deal with separate sets of
broadcast and cable ratings is cumbersome and inefficient.
big change is the way cable-network ratings will be reported locally.
Under the new format, Nielsen will report two ratings for each network in
each local market.
One rating will record the total audience in the market and the other will
record the audience to just the wired cable systems in the market.
Nielsen makes the distinction because ads inserted by the local cable systems
are not inserted by the direct-broadcast satellite systems that carry those networks.
Broadcasters have been clamoring for the change for some time because, they
said, the total audience rating is misleading in terms of the audience size
that's actually seeing those local-cable spots.
Nielsen stressed that while the decision to make the
changes is final, the implementation date is not. Fourth-quarter 2003 is the
target, barring unforeseen logistical obstacles.