CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus has emerged as a prominent figure in the ongoing discussion surrounding Nielsen’s approach to measuring viewership for Amazon’s Thursday Night Football. His recent remarks shed light on the industry’s concerns regarding this issue.

In a recent conference call, McManus stressed the critical importance of impartial and unbiased audience measurement across all platforms within the sports broadcasting industry. He expressed his firm stance, saying, “Anything less than impartial and unbiased data is simply unacceptable to us.” McManus went on to describe the situation as “extremely odd and unfortunate.”

The core of the controversy lies in the selective application of rules to specific platforms. Notably, Amazon’s internal viewership figures exceeded Nielsen’s calculations by a significant 18% last year. This year, Nielsen plans to incorporate Amazon’s data into its measurements, which is expected to result in even higher viewership numbers.

Sean McManus

While Nielsen has offered to extend this approach to streaming services maintained by other networks, doubts have arisen within the industry about the feasibility and transparency of such a move. Some networks view Nielsen’s offer with skepticism, citing the absence of clear implementation steps. Nielsen, however, has dismissed these concerns as baseless.

Adding an intriguing layer to this debate is the NFL’s endorsement of Nielsen’s new approach. This alignment has positioned the league in opposition to several broadcast partners. From the NFL’s perspective, the objective is clear: maintain robust streaming numbers to maximize the value of NFL games during future bidding processes.

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In an industry where accurate viewership data plays a pivotal role in advertising revenue and negotiations, Sean McManus’s voice joins the chorus of those expressing reservations about Nielsen’s approach to measuring Amazon’s Thursday Night Football viewership. The varying perspectives among network executives, the NFL, and Nielsen underscore the complexities of adapting to the changing landscape of sports broadcasting in the digital age.