Nielsen is moving the February 2009 sweeps to March to avoid the "potential disruptions" associated with the switch to digital on February 17th. "February" sweeps will actually take place March 5 - April 1, 2009.
In a memo to clients, Nielsen told them of those and other plans it is undertaking to "ensure the accuracy of television-audience estimates throughout the DTV-transition period." TV stations use sweeps numbers to set rates for advertisers going forward.
Nielsen will continue to provide overnight ratings in metered markets as usual for February 2009 and anticipates no changes to national ratings reporting.
Nielsen's action plan for rating station signals is geared toward two constituencies: homes in its sample that make changes to TV equipment, such as buying new sets or converter boxes; and TV stations "changing their signal distributions," which essentially means all of them.
Nielsen said it cannot "proactively" raise the topic of the DTV transition with its panel households, since the sample is supposed to be representative of the general population. But field representatives will be trained to answer questions about the transition if panelists raise them on their own.