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Nielsen launches the Nielsen Impact Score to help college sports teams recruit more effectively; secures first agreement with Duke men’s basketball program

4 minute read | October 2021

New solution from Nielsen Sports allows collegiate sports teams to value athlete marketability under new NCAA name, image, likeness rules using proprietary Nielsen data

New York, NY – Oct. 26, 2021  Following the NCAA’s landmark ruling earlier this year allowing collegiate athletes to benefit from their own name, image and likeness, Nielsen (NYSE: NLSN) has launched a new solution, the Nielsen Impact Score (NIS), which will help universities recruit student-athletes by demonstrating the marketing value of each athletic program. The Duke University men’s basketball team, five-time national champions and 16-time Final Four participants, is the first collegiate program to sign on and use the Nielsen Impact Score.

Nielsen Sports, a global leader in sports media valuation, data intelligence, strategy and insights, developed the NIS to help showcase the marketing impact a collegiate sports team can deliver to potential student-athletes. By tapping into Nielsen’s industry-leading TV measurement tools, along with its local market research data from Nielsen Scarborough, the NIS is a first-of-its-kind solution that only Nielsen is able to deliver.

The NIS database is designed to help a university team’s staff showcase the impact its program can have on prospective players. This database allows universities to quantify the inherent value a program can provide to prospective student-athletes using metrics similar to those a brand would consider when evaluating sports marketing partnerships. Now, coaches can pull their program’s rankings at the local or national level to help recruiting efforts, showcasing strengths in their own program as well as advantages over other programs. This allows programs that use the NIS to personalize recruiting pitches based on factors that may help a student-athlete benefit from the NCAA’s new name, image, likeness rules.

The Nielsen Impact Score is a marketing value index that compares programs across three key inputs:

  • National Exposure – The basis for any marketing deal, this metric accounts for how much national television exposure the collegiate program provides its student-athletes. This metric is based on proprietary Nielsen TV Ratings data.
  • Local Market Impact – College sports marketing relies heavily on state and local market advertisers, and this metric quantifies how a program’s local market fanbase engages with its local marketing activations. This component is provided using local market research data from Nielsen Scarborough.
  • Social Media Engagement – This calculates the engagement value of a program’s social media audience through metrics including followers, engagement rates, and more.

The NIS is initially available for nearly 100 NCAA Division I men’s college basketball programs – including all schools from the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), American Athletic Conference (AAC), Big 12, Big East, Pac-12, Southeastern Conference (SEC), and more – with plans to roll out broader across more collegiate sports.

“We had an opportunity to tap into exclusive and trusted Nielsen audience  measurement and consumer data and bring a new solution to aid college coaches with the new NCAA name, image, likeness legislation,” said Nielsen Sports Managing Director Jon Stainer. “By adding the Nielsen Impact Score to our other Nielsen Sports solutions such as Nielsen Fan Insights, Return on Sponsorship Investment and Sports Connect, we continue to raise the bar on the value we can bring to sports properties and brands through a data-driven approach. No other company is able to offer this type of solution since Nielsen has the largest breadth of TV data, and its own local market consumer research in Nielsen Scarborough.”

“We’re always looking for creative ways to elevate our brand and share our story with recruits,” said Duke Men’s Basketball Creative Director David Bradley. “The Nielsen Impact Score and corresponding data is another way to position our basketball program to potential future Blue Devils by sharing the true data points in their own marketability.  When we say “bright lights, biggest stage” – we will have comprehensive data to show what that means to a future college basketball player. We are excited to be the first program to use this new solution as we look to bring in the next generation of elite student-athletes.”

Nielsen Sports is the leading source of sports and sponsorship measurement and analytics around the world, with solutions spanning cross-platform media valuation, fan insights, and digital and social analysis. Nielsen Sports provides insight and analysis of over 15,000 teams, leagues and events and for more than 150,000 brands globally. Learn more at

The Duke’s men’s basketball team opens its 2021-22 season on Tuesday, Nov. 9 vs. Kentucky.

About Nielsen

Nielsen shapes the world’s media and content as a global leader in audience measurement, data and analytics. Through our understanding of people and their behaviors across all channels and platforms, we empower our clients with independent and actionable intelligence so they can connect and engage with their audiences—now and into the future.

An S&P 500 company, Nielsen (NYSE: NLSN) operates around the world in more than 55 countries. Learn more at or and connect with us on social media.



Matt Hurst