comScore vs. Nielsen

08.23.17 / Kelly Dorn / Advertising

There’s a new television and cable rating system in town giving ratings giant Nielsen a run for its money. In actuality, it’s not that new, but it’s becoming increasingly evident that stations and agencies are taking a serious look at what comScore has to offer compared to Nielsen. As a matter of fact, Sinclair broadcasting, who owns approximately 173 stations (actual total could increase to over 220 after all proposed sales are approved), in more than 80 markets, will only be using comScore beginning in 2018. A letter was sent to agencies on June 5, 2017 letting buyers know that Sinclair will exclusively be using comScore ratings for all media negotiations and measurement effective 2018. comScore, previously known as Rentrak, tracks viewing behavior from more than 35 million televisions in all 210 TV markets, a number likely to increase to more than 38 million by the first quarter of 2018. It is important to note that comScore ratings are based on households, meaning that if you are buying media targeting adults 25-54, a household with someone living in it that is 25-54 will be counted.

Nielsen has been the sole provider of supplying ratings data for over 60 years. The problem with Nielsen is that they just don’t have enough boxes collecting data in each market. Currently, Nielsen is collecting data from just 600 homes in the Baltimore DMA, where there are over 1 million TV homes. In Washington D.C., they are collecting data from 800 homes, where there are almost 2.5 million TV homes. Advertising rates rely on Nielsen’s count of the number of people who watch TV ads. And while comScore is certainly collecting data from many more homes, Nielsen is able to give demo ratings.

Personally, I am happy to see some competition for Nielsen. But hold on, comScore and Nielsen may not be the only two in the ratings game. Rumor has it that Comcast is working on offering its own alternative form of measurement. As a media buyer, I am glad to have access to both comScore and Nielsen. I want to be able to use the most accurate measurement available to be assured that I’m getting my clients the highest rated programming at the best possible cost.

As the saying goes, a little competition never hurt anyone.

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