In a somewhat massive legal filing, in a NY State court, India-based New Dehli Television Limited (NDTV) has sued Nielsen for billions, claiming that the famous TV ratings service manipulated ratings in India in a way that harmed its own offerings. The accusations suggest massive corruption, which NDTV tries to blame on Nielsen’s investor-owners, claiming that the company’s owners were trying to cut expenses, leaving the Nielsen process (which has always been somewhat suspect, relying on a relatively small number of “Nielsen households” with tracking boxes) open to manipulation. In India, which already has the reputation of a fair bit of corruption among politicians, there’s the added bonus that many “politicians also own cable networks”
It is common knowledge that there are a number of television channels
owned by politicians and political parties. Furthermore, politicians also own cable networks in certain Indian states. At the household level, in certain instances
PeopleMeters have been installed at the residences of government officials, where
tampering of the data also takes place.
It’s interesting to see that Nielsen, nominally a Dutch company, is being sued by an Indian TV company… in the state of NY. Part of the reason may be that Nielsen’s headquarters are in NY, but also the fact that the main investors are all based there as well.
I have no idea if the charges (and there are many, many of them) leveled at Nielsen are accurate or not, but it’s somewhat amazing that we haven’t seen more such charges. The lawsuit does suggest similar problems in the odd combination of “Florida, Turkey, the Philippines and across the planet.” The lawsuit expands each of those charges into paragraph levels, but with no citations or backup. For example, this is how it explains Florida:
In Florida, many television broadcasters have been complaining about
inaccurate ratings data resulting from inadequate sample sizes. Those television
broadcasters have been unable to get alternate ratings because Nielsen has a
monopoly in that market.
Seems somewhat lacking without more details. Either way, if anything, this should simply raise questions about why we use systems like Nielsen? Nielsen boxes have always been somewhat questionable, providing tremendous influence to the small number of people who have them. In a data-driven, always connected age, it would seem that there are much more effective — and much more robust — means of tracking what people are watching on TV.