One cable TV executive predicted there won't be a true picture of mobile ratings until summer or fall of 2015.
Nielsen's TV measurement first faced a major crisis of confidence more than 20 years ago, amid growing skepticism from networks and surprising ratings fluctuations.
"When those numbers became unreliable, inconsistent, inaccurate, unexplainable," a TV researcher said in 1992, "they just threw into chaos almost everything we did, because they were the basis on which the business was built." There were other challenges before and since, including the controversial introduction of "people meters" in 1987 and audience fragmentation stemming from the cable boom and the arrival of the VCR.
Gaping holes Clarifying what Nielsen can and cannot measure is certainly laborious.
Depending on who you ask at the company, the explanation can even be misleading.
For the methodical research company, the accelerating pace of change in media may finally be getting out of hand.
While the decline in live TV viewership has worried networks and advertisers for decades, that shift away from Nielsen's core competency is increasingly pronounced: As Nielsen reported just last week, Americans watched 12 fewer minutes of live TV per day in the third quarter than they did a year earlier.
The software that must be implemented is filled with bugs, according to these executives, and tests of the system have been postponed several times.
For some networks, implementing the software has also required hiring additional manpower.
Nielsen made headlines last month for plans to begin measuring streaming-video-on-demand services like Netflix and Amazon Prime.
But it won't report broad viewership data from those platforms any time soon.
We deliver Social Content Ratings, the first standardized third-party measurement of program-related social media activity across Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.