Sinclair CEO confirms company is dumping Nielsen for comScore

From left to right: Jordan Wertlieb, Hearst Television; Valari Dobson Staab, NBC; Dave Lougee, Tegna; Chris Ripley, Sinclair; Harry Jessel, TVNewsCheck.

NEW YORK—Sinclair Broadcasting CEO Chris Ripley confirmed reports from earlier this year that his company is switching from Nielsen to comScore for its audience ratings.

Speaking to an audience at the NAB Show New York, Ripley said that while Sinclair is currently making the switch, he clarified that both services have flaws and that both will soon be obsolete once broadcasters are able to offer more targeted audience data to buyers and agencies.

Ripley’s comment came during a late morning broadcast CEO panel featuring Ripley; Dave Lougee, CEO of Tegna; Valari Dobson Staab, president of NBC owned television stations; and Jordan Wertlieb, president of Heart Television, that in part focused on the spot advertising market for broadcasters.

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Wertlieb was careful to segment that market out into local and national, and said that local is still growing at a healthy rate as local advertising migrates to TV from print.

“The national marketplace is what’s holding the growth rate,” Wertlieb said.

“National has not been a growth area forever,” Lougee said, stressing the need for automation to take friction about of the process. But he said there are a lot of players in the ecosystem so “it hasn’t progressed as fast as we thought it would. But we think those icebergs will start to move.”

“I do see a groundswell this year in terms of wanting to get it solved,” said Ripley, adding that the broadcast industry needs to get to a position where a 25-year-old can push a button on a computer and buy for "all of our stations," while also selling spot alongside audience on a CPM basis.

But Wertlieb also stressed that the TV advertising business right now is pretty good so racing to change up the system is not ideal, to which Dobson Staab added that it can’t be a race to the bottom.

“We have got to get this right,” Dobson Staab said.