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A sensational new report from the widely-respected TV industry journal, MediaNewsDaily, finds that the inability of the TV networks to convince advertisers to accept the new "Live Plus" ratings data from Nielsen Media Research has cost the networks hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenue.
In the past, all advertising deals were based on a single set of ratings reported by Nielsen, but late last year, Nielsen began reporting delayed viewing from households using digital video recorders, and decided to release the data in three streams: "live," "live" plus same day of playback, and "live" plus seven-days of playback. The networks had pushed to include all the delayed viewing, but advertisers and agencies feared viewers zap commercials when playing back recorded programming and held the line for live-only ratings guarantees during the upfront.
When confronted by Olbermann Watch, Stelter first sought to sidestep the issue, then tried the "shoot the messenger" tactic but ultimately was forced to concede that he had, in fact, switched the ratings data he was reporting. Although he never did explain this to his own readers, he did begin to include a disclaimer in his ratings post to indicate that he he was using "Live Plus" ratings data (live viewers plus people who Tivo a show and watch it later that day).
As you can see in those earlier posts, Brian defended his "bait and switch" on the grounds that the "Live Plus" data had become the accepted standard for measuring television audiences. At that time we pointed out that this simply false. That not only was "Live Plus" not a standard but was vehemently opposed by the advertisers. The irony here is that another tactic Brian has used to puff up MSNBC and Keith Olbermann has been to focus his reporting on the so-called "money demo" (viewers ages 25-54) because that was what the advertisers cared about. Brian then sought to complain that cable news executives used "Live Plus" data to evaluate their shows regardless of advertisers. This was also false. Fox News Channel owns most of the cable news audience and they do not use "Live Plus" data to evaluate shows or in their discussions with advertisers.
So, the networks have given up on "Live Plus". Has TVNewser? Nope. Which brings us back to our original point - that the real purpose of sneaking in "Live Plus" data was just another sorry attempt to boost Keith Olbermann and his pals at MSNBC.