Nielsen stands by report, says ESPN lost 621K subs in October

ESPN Los Angeles

After pulling back its October Cable Plus numbers on Oct. 30 following ESPN and other networks’ objection to the figures, Nielsen reaffirmed the data.

In a statement released Friday, Nielsen said that “out of an abundance of caution” it decided to pull back the report in order to review its processes and make certain that the estimates were produced correctly.

“Nielsen has now completed an extensive review and has verified that November estimates were accurate as originally released and that all the processes that go into the creation of these estimates were done correctly. Accordingly, they will be re-released today to our clients and put into our production systems on Monday, Nov. 7, 2016,” the company said.

The re-release of its report means Nielsen is sticking to its estimates that ESPN lost a whopping 621,000 subscribers in October. ESPN was not alone, with Nielsen estimating that CNN lost 617,000 pay-TV subscribers, Fox News lost 571,000 and MSNBC lost 530,000 homes.

ESPN responded to Nielsen re-releasing the report by calling into question the firm’s methodology for collecting viewership data and pointing out how the numbers are inconsistent with typical performance.

“This most recent snapshot from Nielsen is a historic anomaly for the industry and inconsistent with much more moderated trends observed by other respected third party analysts,” ESPN said in a statement. “It also does not measure DMVPDs and other new distributors and we hope to work with Nielsen to capture this growing market in future reports.”

Nielsen said the month over month decline in coverage that most cable networks saw was driven primarily by an overall decline of approximately half a percentage point (0.55) in the Cable Plus universe, “meaning fewer households are subscribing to cable through [Wired Cable (i.e., traditional cable MSO), Telco or DBS providers.]”

Nielsen said the decline was not driven by household changes in tiers or packages. The firm also said it is researching new and emerging technologies and multichannel providers such as “virtual MVPDs” and will incorporate these households into the Cable Network Coverage Area Universe Estimate definition in the future.