Nielsen said it wouldn’t include viewership data for “Thursday Night Football” from Amazon.com’s AMZN 1.84%increase; green up pointing trianglePrime Video streaming platform in its ratings reports for now, because the move wasn’t approved by the independent body in charge of setting measurement standards.
The decision is a blow to Amazon and the National Football League, which had lobbied Nielsen aggressively to include first-party data for “Thursday Night Football,” and a win for other networks that carry the NFL and fought against the change.
A spokesman for Amazon declined to comment. The NFL said it supports Nielsen’s efforts to add additional insights to strengthen and provide a more accurate measurement.
“Our work with Nielsen on the integration of first party data sources into its national measurements is ongoing,” said the Media Rating Council, which sets measurement standards and blesses Nielsen data. “MRC has not accredited these, and the official status remains ‘in process.’”
Amazon wanted its data included because its own research showed viewership was nearly 18% higher for “Thursday Night Football” last season than Nielsen’s own numbers. Nielsen currency is what advertisers use to determine commercial rates for programming.
Nielsen was eager to include Amazon data, saying last month that it would “more accurately reflect the growing impact of streaming” and that measurement needed to evolve. It was to be the first time Nielsen would use a company’s own data along with its independent research to publicly report ratings.
Networks including Disney’s ESPN, Paramount Global’s CBS, and Fox all publicly expressed concern about Nielsen’s plans to incorporate Amazon data after a Wall Street Journal article on the matter.
Nielsen isn’t closing the door on the concept, saying its goal is to continue moving forward in its plans to eventually incorporate first-party data and addressing the concerns raised by other networks.
The networks were concerned that not enough analysis was being done before greenlighting the use of Amazon’s own data and that the process was being rushed. The networks also took issue last season with Amazon publicizing its own internal ratings that weren’t given a green light by Nielsen.
In addition, the networks have previously challenged Nielsen’s measuring of Amazon, specifically that Amazon has more co-viewing—the average number of people gathered around the television to watch a game—than other networks’ average, and more out-of-home viewing.
Network executives recently met for three hours with the Media Rating Council, according to a person familiar with the matter.
“We remain committed to adhering to the MRC’s measurement standards,” Nielsen said Thursday.
“I applaud Nielsen for listening to the concerns of the majority of their clients and preserving their position as the impartial scorekeeper of the business,” said Mike Mulvihill, president of insights and analytics for Fox Sports
Write to Joe Flint at Joe.Flint@wsj.com