Nielsen Backs Off of Plan to Use Amazon Data to Calculate ‘Thursday Night Football’ Ratings




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Amazon will not have a say in how Nielsen calculates the ratings of its NFL “Thursday Night Football” stream after all.

The TV ratings firm said on Thursday that it would continue to rely on its own traditional panel method to get its ratings, rather than incorporate data supplied by Amazon itself. The move was opposed by the TV broadcasters, who argued it would influence the independent nature of Nielsen, with Amazon incentivized to provide the most bullish data on its own Prime Video service. The pressure was apparently enough for Nielsen to put a pause on things.

“For now, Nielsen’s panel-only National TV service will remain the currency of record. First-party data will be included in Big Data in National measurement figures, which are available to all customers separately,” the company said in a statement.

Incorporating a company’s data would mark a break from Nielsen’s history of being an independent authority on how many people are watching a specific program. But it’s also reflective of the difficulties of utilizing an older system of calculation that may not accurately tabulate the popularity of streaming programming. Nielsen had said it was willing to work with multiple first parties to incorporate their data.

The partnership between Nielsen and Amazon was supposed to settle a dispute over the accounting of “Thursday Night Football” games from last season, with viewer panels showing an audience that was 18% smaller than the one Amazon found through the devices streaming the game, Variety reported. The methodology for calculating the ratings went before the Media Ratings Council, a group backed by media and advertising industry players that examines these kinds of measurement processes, Variety said.

TV networks expressed fears of bias, although they’ve also attempted to offer their own data to Nielsen in the past, Variety reported.

The Media Ratings Council declined to comment on the move. An Amazon spokesman wasn’t available for comment.

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