NEWS27 August 2013

ESPN could block Nielsen’s Arbitron deal

M&A North America

US — Sports broadcaster ESPN is likely to be the key to the takeover of Arbitron by Nielsen according to reports in the US press.

In April, Arbitron shareholders voted in favour of the radio ratings firm’s acquisition by Nielsen, the dominant provider of TV measurement services, but the Disney-owned sports broadcaster licences software from Arbitron to measure how many viewers watch the network and on which device.

According to the New York Post, with the licence due to expire soon, ESPN may block the takeover if it is unable to continue licencing the software.

The FTC is scheduled to make a decision this week on whether to sue to block the tie-up and the paper reports that ESPN’s senior VP Artie Bilgrin has been in talks with the commission.

In September last year, ESPN was involved in a collaboration between Arbitron and ComScore to develop what they said would be a first five-platform measurement initiative to provide information on media consumption habits across radio, television, PCs, smartphones and tablets.

The initiative combined ComScore’s data on PCs, mobiles and TV set-top boxes with the TV and radio measurement capabilities of Arbitron’s Portable People Meter (PPM) technology while ESPN collaborated on the design of the initiative as a charter client.