Nielsen: There Is Room For Rivals' Data

Steve-HaskerRentrak CEO Bill Livek has been saying for years the TV measurement market offers an opportunity for both its system and the entrenched Nielsen ratings to succeed. Now, apparently Nielsen agrees.
Rentrak has signed many local stations to use its products, based on set-top-box (STB) data, which it says can complement the “sample currency” Nielsen propagates.
“There is room for a client to both use our data as the currency for ratings and other data sources, including set-top-box data direct from (cable, satellite and telco TV operators) or from some other players for the purpose of analytics around program optimization,” said Steve Hasker, the president of Nielsen’s global media products, according to a transcript.

“We’ll see how that plays out," he said.
Hasker, who did not cite Rentrak by name, made his comments at a recent investor event in response to a question about whether a local station that signs with a Nielsen competitor would have reason to go with both data sources.
Nielsen is overhauling its local-market system to use a hybrid model that will include STB data, as well as data generated from a new code reader, in addition to its traditional panels.
Hasker reiterated arguments why Nielsen feels “uncomfortable” going with only an STB-based system. Among them is if a person leaves a set-top box on, while not watching, that could affect the counting. Also, an STB-based system could fail to capture broadcast-only homes. And it could fail to offer clients sturdy information on the demographics of viewership.
(Rentrak would say its algorithms and other approaches help it meet those challenges, with its “census-based” data. It also argues that its data draws from many more homes than the Nielsen panels; Nielsen is expanding its pool during the revamp.)
Hasker added that STB data has “some value when combined with our panels … when used to increase fidelity and reduce the variability filling some of the gaps. We think set-top-box has the value, so that’s the path we are pursuing.”

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