Nielsen Scraps Ratings Combo Policy

All Airings of Same Shows to Be Reported Separately

Nielsen reversed its policy allowing two airings of the same network TV show to be combined into a single rating if the commercial content was identical, citing client complaints about NBC's combining of ratings for the Sept. 25 telecast of Heroes.

B&C reported Sept. 27 that the ratings company was rethinking the policy after complaints from others that it allowed for gaming of the system.

The new policy, which tabulated an unduplicated cumulative rating, also meant that a rating for the original airing of a program would not be available until weekly averages were released.

Nielsen made the change Aug. 27 to reflect the increasing number of network reairings of shows within a few days of the initial airing.

While Nielsen said NBC had not violated any Nielsen policy, it decided to abandon the policy. "[I]f a broadcast network reairs the same episode, then ratings for both the original and the repeat will be reported," the company said in a statement Tuesday. "This policy is effective immediately on a moving-forward basis.

The company continued, "Clients told us that it was essential for the ratings to the individual telecasts to remain available so that viewing to each telecast can be analyzed separately and to ensure there is no ratings gap in any time period. In addition, clients commented that the ability to combine two telecasts should not be allowed unless the option was available for all national media types."

Nielsen said it would still look to increase ratings flexibility, but it would make sure that whatever changes it made would be available to all clients.