NEW YORK: Over one hundred Nielsen Media Research clients gathered in Manhattan on Friday for a progress update on the company's long-awaited minute-by-minute TV ratings system.

Due to come onstream April 24 next year, the service will for the first time provide stateside networks, advertisers and agencies with data on the viewing of individual commercials.

But there are mutinous murmurings at the timing of the launch, which many had hoped would be sufficiently early to furnish usable numbers for the May upfronts.

Says Group M svp and director of research and audience analysis Lyle Schwartz: "It seems like this timetable will preclude us from having enough time to analyze the data ... to make sure it is accurate and usable. I am disappointed we will not have the complete data sooner."

However, broadcast executive David Poltrack, chief research officer at CBS, hopes to use the data in his upfront joustings. He expects the network to harness NMR's commercials data for those clients who want to buy ads based on commercial viewers - as opposed to program eyeballs.

And Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau president/ceo Sean Cunningham is of like mind. "It'll be a squeaker, but in theory we could have reasonably correct data to placate those vocal few who want to use the commercial ratings currency in the upfront," he said.

Key information of this kind is commonplace elsewhere on the planet. In the UK, for example, BARB (Broadcasters' Audience Research Board) has provided minute-by-minute commercials viewing data for over twenty-five years.

Data sourced from AdWeek (USA); additional content by WARC staff