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Under Scrutiny, Nielsen Defends Coronavirus Count of TV Audience

The media industry’s go-to authority for measuring audiences acknowledged on Friday that the recent coronavirus pandemic bent its yardstick, but maintained nothing is broken.

Nielsen, under fire from the TV networks that depend on it to count the audiences for which advertisers pay, says pandemic conditions resulted in a smaller panel of consumers it relies on to monitor TV viewing, but believes the trends it chronicles during 2020 remain viable. “What we have seen is that the decline in linear is definitely increasing,” Mainak Mazumdar, Nielsen’s chief data and research officer, says in an interview. “There is an increase in streaming, but the decline in linear is not offset by total viewing.”

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