Dutch/Gar: maybe this has something to do with it.
NEW YORK (Dow Jones)--Time Warner Inc.'s (TWX) Turner cable networks and Walt Disney Co.'s (DIS) ESPN have joined the ranks of cable networks that will not participate in a new commercial-ratings system from Nielsen Media Research, which aims to measure the average viewership for all the national commercial minutes that run during a program. General Electric Co.'s (GE)NBC Universal said Monday its cable networks, which include USA, Bravo and Sci-Fi, wouldn't participate.
"We are going to opt out for now," says Jack Wakshlag, chief research officer for Turner Broadcasting. An ESPN spokeswoman said via email that the cable operation was taking a "wait and see" attitude toward the Nielsen data and was "not opting in" at present.
The Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau is also advising its members to not take part in the system until Nielsen refines some of its methodology, says Sean Cunningham, chief executive and president of the trade association. (This story and related background material will be available on The Wall Street Journal Web site, WSJ.com.)
At issue, cable executives say, is Nielsen's present inability to measure ads on cable properly. Cable executives have pointed out in recent weeks that Nielsen systems have trouble, for example, differentiating between a national and local ad within the same commercial break on a cable channel. Nielsen has said it expects to improve its methodology.
Nielsen last week delayed initial release of the commercial ratings by a month to December while it discusses the system with TV networks. Release of the commercial-ratings was expected to show that average viewership dips when a program goes to commercial break, information which could eventually affect the price that TV networks could charge for their ad time. Preparation of the data comes as evidence grows that use of digital video recorders is making it easier for people to speed through commercial breaks. -By Brian Steinberg, The Wall Street Journal; 212-416-3155
(END) Dow Jones Newswires 10-24-06 1412ET Copyright (c) 2006 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.