Madison Avenue Brian Steinberg-Senior audience Nielsen CEO Madison Avenue Brian Steinberg-Senior

Nielsen’s Defiant CEO Says Company Stands Ready to Count, Despite TV Network ‘Noise’

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Brian Steinberg Senior TV EditorHow did the simple act of counting TV viewers become so controversial? David Kenny thinks he knows.The CEO of Nielsen has been under fire for months, ever since some of his company’s biggest customers — the nation’s TV networks — began to complain about how Nielsen tabulated viewers during the coronavirus pandemic.

They are still complaining. And Nielsen faces a host of upstart rivals with whom the networks are striking new measurement deals.

But Kenny says he isn’t letting their maneuvering get in the way of Nielsen’s future.“Yes, it’s noisier,” he acknowledges.More clamor could erupt during the “upfront,” when U.S.

TV networks try to sell the bulk of their commercial inventory for their next cycle of programming. Nielsen’s measure of how many people see programs and commercial breaks has long undergirded these sales talks, but in 2022, Nielsen finds itself without industry accreditation, which it lost in September.

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