The announcement today that the comScore merger with Rentrak is now a done deal; the new comScore promises not an evolution in audience measurement but a full revolution.
“The new comScore will use massive data scale to establish new currencies for understanding consumers’ multiscreen behavior, and provide a precise, innovation-led understanding of audiences, brands and consumer behavior around the world,” wrote Serge Matta, the CEO, and Bill Livek, the president and vice chairman.
As MediaPost’s Joe Mandese reports today, Mata says “the new comScore will be capable of capturing any activity that happens as IP traffic within the home: tablets, smartphones, Xbox, over-the-top” all done with comScore technology, and linear TV accomplished via Rentrak’s devices.
Of course, comScore is in competition with Nielsen-- a kind of “our exact measurement is better than your exact measurement” battle awaits. Nielsen’s Total Audience Measurement system is due, soon, and in a business where everything changes quickly and radically, that should be a big deal.
Alan Wolk at TDG Research, wrote last week that he’s pretty sure Nielsen’s advances will unleash TV Everywhere, which so far has been a technology everybody seems to believe has a great, unfulfilled potential, but only a so-so reality.
But better, holistic Nielsen measurement will let TV Everywhere “become the useful, advanced, TV-of-the-future tool it was meant to be.”
Well, hot dog! When everything is measured with the same yardstick, in theory, everybody wins because it encourages multichannel video programming distributors, or MVPDs, (or, cable/satellite operators) to discover and exploit all the commercial possibilities TV Everywhere presents.
This could be viewers’ best of all worlds--the ability to watch all TV, well, everywhere, just as once advertised.
“MVPDs are now inking deals with OTT SVOD services (e.g., Netflix) that allow them to sell these services directly to their broadband and pay-TV customers,” Wolk writes. “This is a win all around: MVPDs get to keep these SVOD viewers within their ecosystem, using more broadband (which is a major profit center), while the streaming services get additional sales and marketing support. Consumers win too, as they can access all their programming from a single interface and pay for all their television viewing with a single bill."
But as Wolk also points out, as TV Everywhere gets more exposure and functionality, a new downer presents itself to viewers
If you see mountains of commercials on a regular TV broadcast, that’s the same load of ads that will exist everywhere whether you’re watching on your PC, tablet or mobile device. Wolk points out, if you needed the grim reminder, this Sunday when CBS airs the Super Bowl, online viewers will see the very same ads however they view it.
All very interesting but what, exactly, are these new services going to be measuring? Will it be simply that some content is on a screen, or will it be that a particular individual is "watching"? In the latter case, which is crucial, how will "watching" or "viewing" be defined? Will it pertain only to "content" but not to ads? Will it be second by second viewing----almost impossible to obtain---or merely a general claim by a panel member at the outset of a channel selection? or are we going to mix and match, using on-screen as an indicator of "viewing" for digital and set usage for "linear TV". If that's the plan then were I advising the TV networks, I'd support the new measurements with maximum enthusiasm and funding as they will not only show bigger audiences but "better" audiences. Suddenly, the TV networks will be able to point proudly to the demographcs of their "viewers" as being much younger than the outdated and hopelessly old fashioned "viewing" studies have told us as well as better educated and much more affluent. Wow!