August 1, 2012 Cameron Reilly

Nielsen Sued For Billions Over Fraudulent TV Ratings

Hollywood Reporter has this story on a massive lawsuit against Nielsen.

In a 194-page lawsuit filed in New York court late last week, NDTV accuses Nielsen of violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act by manipulating viewership data in favor of channels that are willing to provide bribes to its officials.

According to NDTV, rampant manipulation of viewership data has been going on for eight years, and when presented with evidence earlier this year, top executives at Nielsen pledged to make changes. But the Indian news giant says these promises have been false ones.

If you think it only applies to India, you’d be wrong:

If that’s not enough, the complaint suggests that similar bad activity is happening elsewhere — in Florida, Turkey and the Philippines.

TV and Radio ratings have always struck me as pretty dodgy. Sample sizes for Nielsen’s radio surveys have been an issue in Australia over the last few years. As people involved in the ratings system know they are participating, you would imagine that it┬ácan lead to response bias (i.e. people manipulate their viewing or listening habits because they know they are being watched).

We haven’t had a working TV in our house for years. The kids have one attached to the XBOX and they watch iView on it.┬áChrissy and I watch shows on my MacBook via Netflix. We have barely seen a TV ad in five years. I doubt the Nielsen system picks up people like us. The interesting thing is when we do happen to encounter traditional TV or radio ads (such as the ads on Spotify or on Comedy Central shows that we stream), we find them very invasive and annoying. We have become totally used to ad-free watching and listening. Companies that want to market to us need to update their methods.

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