NEWS1 September 2009

TiVo ‘not looking to dislodge Nielsen’

Financials North America

US— Nielsen faces many challenges to its dominance in the TV ratings business – but it need not completely fear TiVo, according to Tom Rogers, CEO of the digital video recorder firm and aspiring media measurement player.

Rogers said the firm, with its suite of set-top-box data products, is “not looking to dislodge the Nielsen data as the key currency for advertising ratings negotiations”.

Instead, he said, “Our goal is to fill all kinds of voids that the Nielsen data has in the marketplace.”

A big gap in Nielsen’s offer, Rogers believes, is local TV viewing data based on electronic measurement. Although Nielsen had been pursuing a steady rollout of its people meter measurement system in local markets, this has now been put on hold because of the weak economy, meaning self-completion diaries remain the core means of assessing viewing habits outside the largest 20 designated market areas, or DMAs.

TiVo announced plans to extend its Stop Watch ratings service to local markets earlier this year. The first of these – San Francisco, Orlando and Tucson – went live this quarter.

Depending on the size of the market, each local Stop Watch offering will have a sample of between 5,000 and 25,000 TiVo homes from which anonymous second-by-second viewing data is derived. Nationally the Stop Watch sample is being expanded to 300,000 homes.

“The lack of electronic data in the overwhelming number of local TV markets is mind-boggling given the fact that television stations have been broadcasting now for over 60 years,” said Rogers.

He was speaking as the company reported its second-quarter results for 2009. TiVo does not break out revenue figures for its audience measurement services, but comments made by Rogers suggest the going is tough in this part of the business.

Rogers said: “While our groundbreaking measurement data is being viewed in a climate where money for research from potential clients is obviously being cut way back, we remain very confident there will be substantial appetite for these products going forward.”