In another striking move for the upstart measurement company, Rentrak has inked a deal with the CW network, where the entity owned jointly by CBS and Warner Bros. will begin receiving its service based on set-top-box data. The CW becomes the first of the Big 5 networks to sign on.
Rentrak has arrangements with multiple significant cable operators from CNBC to the NFL network and has worked with MTV Networks. The CNBC arrangement set a potential blueprint that could make Rentrak an even more prominent player in the national TV market as a deal between agency MPG and CNBC, including secondary guarantees based on Rentrak data.
The Rentrak service makes at least one case that offers a leg up on Nielsen: it uses many more homes to determine ratings than Nielsen’s traditional TV sample. However, like Nielsen, it does employ estimates to cover the full country. Its set-top-box data is culled from multiple cable operators, AT&T and Dish Network.
The CW deal offers access to one of Rentrak’s would-be “single source” products, where viewership data will be combined with information from researcher Polk to determine how much car ads lead to purchases. CW also gains access to an exact commercial ratings product, driven by second-by-second data.
If agencies push CW to cut deals based on the Rentrak information, that could give them some leverage to urge other large networks to embrace the data as more of a currency than just a directional guide. Still, the top CW executive gave no indication that Nielsen would be supplanted.
"In today's constantly evolving media landscape, precise and stable audience measurement is absolutely crucial," stated Mark Pedowitz, the CW’s president. "We were drawn to Rentrak because of their larger sample size and believe their service will be complementary and supplemental to what we see today, thereby giving us a more complete picture of the CW's viewership."