Viacom’s Nickelodeon will have to give away some inventory to compensate advertisers for an unprecedented ratings shortfall. The network started to experience ratings declines in September, when kids’ viewing fell by 11%. Since then it had dropped 17% in October and 19% during the first three weeks of November.
The NY Post says Nickelodeon is offering advertisers — which spend millions of on the network to reach kids during the holiday season —make-goods after ratings fell below the levels promised to advertisers in the upfront. A Nickelodeon spokesman confirmed that the company is compensating: “It’s business as usual. To the extent that we need to make good, we absolutely will,” he said.
In early November, CEO Philippe Dauman warned of a softer ad market in Q4 and said the company would lose some revenue from holiday advertisers as a result of weaker ratings.
“Toys are a strong category in this quarter,’ he said at the time. “This is why it’s so vexing to have this issue.”
Nickelodeon is cable TV’s second-biggest ad generator, behind ESPN. Viacom blames Nielsen’s new ratings sample for the sudden falloff, while Nielsen has stood by its data. The Media Ratings Council is due to report its opinion on the matter next week.
Nielsen sent RBR-TVBR this official statement: “It is the longstanding policy of Nielsen not to comment on specific client business issues. We have worked closely with Viacom and the Media Rating Council to conduct an exhaustive assessment of the methodological and market factors reflected in national TV ratings. To date, the review process confirms that our measurement methodology, operations and related reporting processes are working as expected.”