After Missing Cord Cutting Trend, Nielsen Falls Apart
from the whoops-a-daisy dept
For years, we’ve noted how popular TV ratings firm Nielsen has turned a bit of a blind eye to cord cutting and the Internet video revolution, on one hand declaring that the idea of cord cutting was “pure fiction,” while on the other hand admitting it wasn’t actually bothering to track TV viewing on mobile devices. It’s not surprising; Nielsen’s bread and butter is paid for by traditional cable executives, and really, who wants to take the time to pull all those collective heads of out of the sand to inform them that their precious pay TV cash cow is dying?
Eventually, the cord cutting trend became too big to ignore, forcing Nielsen to change its tune and start acknowledging the very real trend (though they called it “zero TV households” instead of cordcutters). Broadcasters (especially those hardest hit by cord cutting) didn’t much like that, and began bullying the stat firm when it showed data that didn’t jive with the view a foot below ground. While Nielsen slowly improved its methodologies, it would occasionally back off on certain data collection and reporting changes if the cable and broadcast industry complained loudly enough.
Ironically, this fealty to wishful thinking has not paid dividends for Nielsen. Nearly every broadcasters in your cable lineup is expected to launch their own streaming service by 2022. Many of these companies (like CBS) have eyed ditching Nielsen because, they claim, it’s charging too much money for a user tracking system that hasn’t adapted for the streaming era. And despite attempting to use patent monopolies to retain its dominance as the source for TV viewership data, things simply have gone from bad to worse for the one time industry leader.
New reports indicate that after failing to find a buyer, the firm may soon be forced to resort to being chopped up and sold for scraps:
“Private equity giant Blackstone Group is dropping out of the Nielsen Holdings sales process — putting the future of the auction in doubt, The Post has learned. After months of kicking the tires at Nielsen, Blackstone has decided against making a final offer for the 95-year-old consumer research firm known for its TV-rating reports, sources told The Post. Separately, private equity firm Apollo Global Management, which began sniffing around the company late last year, is also losing interest, a source close to the situation said.”
There’s a lot of reasons for Nielsen’s demise. The company is saddled with debt, and companies are tired of paying high rates for a service that doesn’t adequately even measure streaming video subscribership. But one has to find it at least semi-ironic that Nielsen spent years delivering “everything is just fine!” missives to the cable and broadcast industry in the belief it would ingratiate itself to them, only to now find few friends as the 95-year-old consumer research firm tries to avoid a complete collapse.