Making a major move for new digital and traditional media measurement services -- as well as amping up competition with Nielsen -- comScore is buying Rentrak. The deal is valued by some at about $732 million, based on today's closing stock market share price.
Rentrak -- which focuses mostly traditional media measurement, including TV and film -- and comScore, with its business deep in the digital media space, say the merger will help the combined company focus on immediate pressing industry goals such as coming up with new standards for the next generation of cross-platform measurement.
Rentrak, which monitors set-top-box data to determine how consumers watch television, becomes a subsidiary of comScore, which measures consumer Web activity.
The move challenges Nielsen in tracking how people consume media.
The merger will offer what comScore CEO Serge Matta calls "the cross-platform measurement systems of the future." Agencies will have access to the cross-platform metrics needed to plan and execute campaigns.
"This merger also recognizes the critical importance of combining digital and TV assets for next generation media measurement, which requires a higher degree of precision at both a national and local market level," Matta says in a statement.
Shareholders of comScore will own approximately 66.5% of the combined company, while Rentrak shareholders would own about 33.5%, under terms of the deal. Each share of Rentrak will be converted into the right to receive 1.15 shares of comScore.
Serge Matta, chief executive officer of comScore, will lead the combined company. Bill Livek, Rentrak’s vice chairman and chief executive, will serve as the new company’s executive vice chairman and president.
In response to the deal, Nielsen, a competitor to both companies, stated: “Nielsen has the only total audience measurement, comparable across all screens. All of our data is fully representative of the U.S. population, and we deliver truly independent measurement.”
It added: “There are myriad analytics options for the media industry, but Nielsen’s focus is on delivering the actual currency ratings data used for trading billions of dollars in advertising. This requires superior quality, industrial-strength delivery and gold-standard audited processes and methods.”
After-market trading had comScore’s stock up 7% to $44.50 and Rentrak gaining 13% to $48.99.
In positioning the company's independence for media buyers and sellers, Matta said in an investor call that the WPP Group -- a major global advertising/media company, which has investments in both companies -- will not have a seat on the combined company's board.
WPP Group will have a 16% stake in the combined company, with an option to grow it to 19.9%.
In February of this year, WPP paid $300 million for a roughly 15% to 20% stake in comScore. In October 2014, WPP bought a 16.7% stake in Rentrak for $56 million in cash.