A fundamental element in the TV Upfronts has been use of a simple metric. Nielsen audience data, i.e. ratings generated by age/gender, have almost always been the sole basis for negotiations.
But increasingly, new metrics have taken hold. NBCUniversal says it will guarantee “the targeted delivery of optimized investments as the exclusive currency” with “select” marketers. Among the components under consideration are advertiser’s first-party data, information from movie-centric subsidiary Fandango, viewership collected from Comcast (parent company of NBCU) set top boxes and other third-party research.
NBCU is not alone. Fox Networks Group, among others (e.g. Viacom) have said recently that it will offer guarantees for advertisers using first-party marketers’ research and other sources.
Changes are underway. Nevertheless, observers are saying that, during the upcoming 2016/17 Upfront, Nielsen reported ratings will still serve as the primary source for the negotiations of tens of billions of dollars of commercial inventory.