Nielsen delaying ad ratings data

New system put off as clients mull effects of DVR usage

Nielsen Media Research said that it will delay the release of a commercial minute ratings system.

The Average Commercial Minute MIT evaluation system was supposed to go online Dec. 11. But Nielsen told clients Friday that it will postpone the new system until it could find out from clients how average commercial minutes should be affected by DVR usage.

Nielsen raised the possibility that a new data stream — apart from the live, live plus same-day and live plus seven-day ones now offered — could be created. It is about to schedule a meeting with clients this month to talk about what's best for the industry. A new timetable will be established afterward.

The industry has been split on commercial ratings ever since it was announced this year that Nielsen would be offering them. The ad industry is enthusiastic by the prospect of being able to rate and compare commercial ratings across networks. The broadcast networks also are enthusiastic, but cable networks have been skeptical that the ratings would be accurately determined under the current scheme.

NBC Universal, for instance, decided to participate with its broadcast network but said last month that it would bow out with its cable channels. Other cable networks also had been unhappy.

The delay means that Nielsen can spend more time working with the data and the cable networks to address their concerns as well as the syndication industry that also is aggrieved. Nielsen had given clients the ability to opt out of the commercial ratings system.

"Nielsen is undertaking significant work in both of these areas and that work is well under way," Nielsen said in a letter to clients Friday. "The impact of the temporary delay in releasing this data brings the timeline of all these initiatives closer in alignment."

Nielsen Media Research is owned by VNU Group, parent company of The Hollywood Reporter.