Changes Coming to TV Audience Measurement

Comscore, one of the leading national third-party audience measurement platforms and a Dunham+Company certified partner, recently issued notice of this year’s updates to their methodology. What do you need to know about these updates, which will take effect starting in January 2023?

The biggest change this year is the integration of vMVPDs – virtual programming distribution platforms like Sling and YouTube TV – into ratings data.

Big picture: While the TV audience isn’t dissipating in any way, there are new players in the market driving for a share of the viewers. Connected TV (CTV) devices (think smart TVs and streaming boxes) are in more homes than ever, and data from Comscore shows that cable subscribers are declining and subscriptions to over-the-top (OTT) services are on the rise.

Historically, TV viewership estimates haven’t captured this growing segment of viewers. That will change in 2023, when Comscore will begin integrating vMVPD viewership into its universe estimates and its ratings data. That means the market household counts will now include households that don’t have cable or other traditional means of accessing television content, but do have CTV access.

Previously those households were excluded, so we expect some bigger changes to the market counts – which, in turn, means that program ratings will change as well.

Overall, this is a great step forward for measuring television audiences with greater accuracy. However, we know such a radical shift can come with challenges as ministries strive to understand their audiences.

The key things to keep in mind walking into 2023 with are:

  1. If you get your viewership data from Comscore, your ratings or viewership may suddenly shift up or down starting January 1 – and that’s not a bad thing. Equipped with the knowledge that the measurements have changed, you know that your program isn’t the main factor in these changes, and you can use that as a springboard to launch into a better understanding of where your audience can be found.
  2. Ratings data for 2022 and older will not be an apples-to-apples comparison with 2023 and onward. You can (and should!) still use 2022 data when analyzing avails and assessing performance. But be cautious about suggesting, for example, that “we grew by X amount in the 2022-2023 fiscal year.” Such a comparison will be difficult to draw accurately. Consider instead pointing out how many people you’re reaching across all types of devices.
  3. You may be surprised by how much viewership you’re gaining from CTV/OTT. Don’t mistake change for decline – this is not the time to pull back, but rather embrace the growth of the industry. Your viewers can see you in more places than ever before – and you can be equipped to strategically meet them where they’re at.

And of course, we’ll be with you every step of the way as you optimize your life-changing message for the airwaves.

If you have any questions or would like to learn more about how we measure TV audiences with Comscore, please feel free to reach out and we’d love to connect with you.

+ More Insights on Media Strategy and Management from Dunham+Company

Ready to take the next step? Dunham+Company is here to help your organization have more impact and establish deeper relationships with your donors and supporters.