TiVo Enters Ratings Debate

NEW YORK DVR marketer TiVo hopes to play a role in the ongoing industry debate about how playback viewing should be counted in the new commercial ratings system being developed by Nielsen Media Research.

In a letter sent to TV and cable networks, advertisers, agencies and Nielsen, TiVo president Tom Rogers noted that unlike Nielsen, TiVo units can measure the actual audience for each commercial that airs because the devices capture second-by-second viewing data. Nielsen captures data minute by minute.

TiVo can also analyze commercial viewing data by pod position and length of spot, which Rogers said are key issues in the debate.

“We are prepared to help guide these discussions to the best possible answer by providing key data samplings that will very much enlighten the current debate,” Rogers said in the letter, which was disseminated Friday to about 70 media companies, agencies and marketers.

TiVo issued its letter just one week after Nielsen postponed the release of commercial ratings data that had been scheduled for Dec. 11, in part over differences of opinions concerning how DVR playback viewing should be used in commercial ratings.

Nielsen has since scheduled a client meeting for Nov. 30 to discuss the delay and other issues related to the controversial ratings proposal. Not being a client, TiVo is not invited, said a rep for the ratings company.

In its own letter to clients confirming the indefinite delay of commercial ratings data, Nielsen (owned by Adweek parent VNU) said it was due to the fact that its day-by-day playback analysis had “further stimulated industry conversation” about how many days of playback should be included in whatever commercial ratings are issued.

“Accordingly, we concluded that the best course of action is to have further discussions with national clients regarding the possibility of a new data stream for commercial minute data in order to ensure that the data file that is released contains the information that clients need,” the letter said.