NEWS23 September 2013

Nielsen’s Arbitron purchase agreed but ESPN partnership continues

M&A North America

US — Nielsen has reached agreement with the Federal Trade Commission to complete its acquisition of Arbitron.

As part of the agreement, ESPN’s cross-platform project with Arbitron and comScore, Project Blueprint, will continue.

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.

ESPN also licences software from Arbitron to measure how many viewers watch the network and on which device but with the licence due to expire soon, the Disney-owned sports broadcaster could have blocked the takeover if it was unable to continue licencing the software according to newspaper reports.

However, the agreement with the FTC said that the order to continue the provision of Project Blueprint did not “affect any Nielsen assets or business, but rather seeks to assure that the Arbitron resources that were available for cross-platform services prior to the Nielsen acquisition will continue to be available in the market for those purposes”.

The deal proviso lasts for eight years and executive vice-president of Mobile Research Labs and former Arbitron SVP for rating services Jay Guyther has been appointed monitor to oversee compliance.

Arbitron will be acquired for $1.3bn and is expected to complete on 30 September 2013.

“We are pleased to have the regulatory process behind us and are excited to be closing the Arbitron acquisition,” said David Calhoun, CEO, Nielsen. “We are looking forward to providing all of the benefits of the combined company to our new clients in the radio industry and their advertisers, driving incremental value for them as well as our shareholders.”