NEWS14 August 2009

Networks and marketers ‘plan rival TV ratings’

North America

US— A group of media companies, advertisers and marketers are planning to launch a TV and digital video audience measurement service to rival Nielsen, the Financial Times has reported.

The paper says that TV networks owned by NBC Universal, Time Warner, News Corp, Viacom, CBS, Discovery and Walt Disney are involved in the scheme, which they expect will be launched by September.

Media agencies Group M and Starcom MediaVest have also reportedly joined the group.

On the advertising side, the FT said that Proctor & Gamble, AT&T and Unilever have thrown their weight behind the consortium.

Contracts to measure set-top box data and cross-platform viewing could be awarded during the fourth quarter of the year as the industry reacts to a “more urgent” need for online video measurement.

Calls to various representatives of the consortium where not returned at the time of publication.

Nielsen, too, did not return calls seeking comment. However on a conference call yesterday the firm’s finance chief Brian West addressed the issue of competition in the market.

When asked about rival audience measurement systems, West said that there were “lots” of alternative services that offer “more precise” analysis of particular media, but Nielsen was concentrating on developing products that clients ask for.

A three-screen measurement system – TV, web and mobile – is “what our clients tell us they want”, he said, and that’s where all the firm’s focus and investment would be targeted.

West said iniatives in set-top box measurement were also underway “which would make us very competitive”.