Media mogul Byron Allen has filed a lawsuit against Nielsen seeking billions in damages for alleged fraudulent misrepresentation.
According to Deadline, Allen’s suit claims the way Nielsen has measured television viewing was unreliable for Allen’s Entertainment Studios Networks (ESN) due to their limited distribution. Additionally, the suit claims Nielsen knew its system was unreliable but hid the fact to do business with the Allen Media Group, which paid millions in fees.
“This lawsuit is about Nielsen’s outdated, unreliable and broken television ratings service, and the resulting harm suffered by media companies who rely on Nielsen to sell ad time,” the complaint states.
Nielsen has been pushed for years to change its metrics. The COVID-19 pandemic exposed deep issues with Neisen’s systems, including its inability to get its measurement equipment out into the field. Late last year, the Media Ratings Council (MRC) suspended Nielsen’s accreditation for national ratings.
In response, Nielsen has promised to begin rolling out an enhanced set of measurement tools by the end of 2022. Allen’s networks, Comedy.TV, Recipe.TV and MyDestination.TV weren’t rated by Nielsen for years and to get rated, they were forced to pay millions. After agreeing to pay the fees in 2017, Allen’s networks, Allen said the data was far from what was expected and promised by Nielsen .
Allen’s suit, filed in the circuit court of Illinois, seeks a jury trial and is asking for a “reformation of contract” meaning a cheaper price for Nielsen ‘s services, which does not have the same standing from the MRC.
Nielsen began providing ESN with ratings reports in 2017, however, “Nielsen did not capture these viewers for much of the reporting period and for many of the primetime slots. Because advertisers condition payments for commercials on the number of viewers who watch commercials, Nielsen’s failure to capture viewership on the ESN Networks damaged Entertainment Studios,” the suit states.
“When Entertainment Studios complained to Nielsen about its failures, Nielsen dissembled, defending its panel model and boasting that it is the “gold standard” in the industry. Nielsen did not disclose what it already knew—that its rating services were fundamentally unreliable.”