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Study Estimates Nielsen Undercounting Out-Of-Home Viewership Cost Networks $350 Million

“We now know that error is tracking towards 60 billion lost TV impressions and $700 million worth of TV ads that marketers couldn’t buy.”  

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In December, marketing research firm Nielsen admitted that it had been undercounting “out-of-home” audiences for national TV programming since monitoring that viewership in September 2020.

Nearly a month later, how much money Nielsen’s error cost TV networks in advertising revenue has been estimated by a different research firm. According to the Video Advertising Bureau (as reported by TheWrap), which represents the major TV networks for advertisers, $700 million worth of unsold ad time was lost because of Nielsen.

That number is based on 60 billion lost TV impressions, according to VAB’s research and a task force the firm hired to examine the out-of-home data Nielsen said it undercounted over a 16-month span.

During an eight-month period that from May to December 2021, VAB’s study determined that Nielsen didn’t count nearly 30 billion ad impressions. That resulted in more than $350 million in advertising that networks couldn’t sell.

You can view the VAB report here.

“The only thing worse than Nielsen’s admitted error of 65 consecutive weeks of undercounting TV viewing was their claim of ‘no impact to minimal impact’ from that blunder,“ said VAB president and CEO Sean Cunningham (via Broadcasting + Cable).

“We now know that error is tracking towards 60 billion lost TV impressions and $700 million worth of TV ads that marketers couldn’t buy because of Nielsen’s second admitted case of 2020-2021 pervasive undercounting.”  

Nielsen stood by its previous assessment that its error had little effect on TV networks’ revenue.

“We reviewed the information shared by the VAB today,” Nielsen said in a statement to TheWrap, “and while we acknowledge the understatement in a portion of our National out-of-home audiences, we stand by our prior statements that the magnitude of the issue was very small for the majority of telecasts.”

Those findings likely won’t appease TV network executives who were already unhappy with Nielsen for delaying its rollout of out-of-home viewership measure. Nielsen cited the COVID-19 pandemic as the reason for the delay, but it looks more apparent that Nielsen knew it wasn’t ready to count out-of-home numbers properly.

Last August, Discovery president and CEO David Zaslav publicly criticized Nielsen in an investor call.

“I don’t have a lot of hope for Nielsen,” Zaslav said, according to the New York Times. “I think somehow, as an industry, we’re just going to have to work our way out of it from a technology perspective and leave them in the dust.”

VAB’s study quantifying a $700 million loss in ad revenue is sure to increase such a sentiment.

Sports TV News

Shannon Sharpe Apologizes to Richard Jefferson for Calling Him Lazy

Jordan Bondurant

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Shannon Sharpe

FS1’s Shannon Sharpe took to social media to clear the air between him and ESPN’s Richard Jefferson over some comments Sharpe made about the former NBA champion.

Sharpe said Jefferson was lazy for only wanting to talk about basketball. Jefferson is an NBA analyst for ESPN and doesn’t normally appear on debate shows or provide analysis on other sports.

“There is not a person in this industry since I have retired that would ever refer to my work ethic as being lazy,” Jefferson said in a response video on his TikTok. “So as long as you live don’t ever do that again or this conversation is gonna be much different.”

Sharpe saw the video and apologized saying his assessment of Jefferson was lazy.

“I want to apologize, I come to you as a man, Rich, and apologize to you for my take on what you said,” he said.

Much like Jefferson did, Sharpe then went on to break down the differences between hosts on debate shows who have to watch and study various different sports and analysts like Jefferson who only specialize in analyzing one sport.

But ultimately Sharpe wanted to bury the hatchet and make it clear to the internet that there’s no problems between the two.

“Richard and I do not have a beef,” Sharpe said. “There is nothing going on, and this is my last time addressing this issue.”

Jefferson tweeted on Saturday accepting Shannon’s apology.

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Sports TV News

NBA Sees Over $800 Million in Advertising Revenue for 2022 Playoffs

Data shows league ad sales for both Disney and Turner Sports, the NBA’s two national TV rights holders, will eclipse $1.3 billion when the playoffs and regular season are factored together.

Jordan Bondurant

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NBA Finals

The NBA and its media partners saw quite a boost in ad revenue over the course of the 2022 playoffs.

Yahoo! cited data from iSpot.tv in a recent report indicating the league saw $842.4 million in revenue for the postseason. That number was up 19% compared to last year and up 54% from 2019.

Data shows league ad sales for both Disney and Turner Sports, the NBA’s two national TV rights holders, will eclipse $1.3 billion when the playoffs and regular season are factored together. The figure makes for a 45% bump from 2020-21 and 39% from 2018-19.

State Farm, AT&T, Google Pixel and Kia Motors were the biggest ad spenders for this season. State Farm spent just over $40 million while AT&T and Google both spent over $30 million.

Despite the television viewership still not climbing back to pre-pandemic levels, the NBA has certainly kept it broadcast partners happy.

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Sports TV News

Media Rights Deals are Recession-Proof, Benefit from Longer Terms

As recently as last week, Apple and Major League Soccer agreed to a $2.5 billion deal. The NFL is mulling billion-dollar deals for just about everything, most recently the NFL Sunday Ticket package which will leave DirecTV after this year

Jordan Bondurant

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The U.S. economy may be in the “worry” phase about an upcoming recession, but if recent television deals are any indication, sports leagues are not. Media rights deals continue to skyrocket despite all of other financial indicators showing that people, businesses are currently struggling.

As recently as last week, Apple and Major League Soccer agreed to a $2.5 billion deal. The NFL is mulling billion-dollar deals for just about everything, most recently the NFL Sunday Ticket package which will leave DirecTV after this year. Those are just a couple of examples of the massive figures that seem to run counter what the average person is dealing with.

Media rights seem to be unharmed by overall macroeconomic environment. It’s interesting to look at why.

One of the main reasons seems to be scarcity. There are only so many NFLs in the world. The number might be one. If you have those media rights, you have access to a multitude of cashflow. It’s important to have the product that people want. Since people will not stop wanting their sports, it’s important to have live sports.

Also, fan participation isn’t one that seems to dwindle, overall, even in a pandemic or financial crunch. Fans care about their team, sport and the league they are in. That kind of fervor for a product makes payment to them or to whomever owns their rights to see them, a foregone conclusion.

A huge reason, also, for the value of a franchise and/or media rights deal to be largely unharmed by current economic climates is their length. Those rights are structured to be long-term and hopefully weather whatever financial crisis may be on the horizon in a hope that it is temporary.

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