Some big names in the media world — including networks owned by NBC (s GE), Time Warner (s TWX), News Corp. (s NWSA), Viacom (s VIA.B), CBS (s CBS) and Disney (s DIS) — have joined forces with a group of marketers to form a TV audience measurement consortium and take on Nielsen, reports the Financial Times.
The group has brought in top-tier advertisers like Procter & Gamble (s PG), AT&T (s ATT) and Unilever (s UNIA.AS) as well as media agencies GroupM and Starcom Mediavest. This band of media brothers plans to be up and running by September. As the Times writes:
People briefed on the plans expected the consortium to award contracts for measuring set-top box data and cross- platform viewers across TV and digital sources as early as the fourth quarter of this year.
Our friend Robert Seidman over at TV by the Numbers sums up what’s at stake quite nicely:
TV advertising is a huge business – $70 billion — and it is driven based on ratings. They are the equivalent of stock quotes for TV advertising and though both advertisers and networks kvetch about Nielsen, the Nielsen numbers are the agreed upon standard. Coming up with another standard both sides will agree on is far, far easier said than done, and again, an expensive proposition.
Back in May, Nielsen became a part of is own TV measurement supergroup, when it hooked up with comScore, Rentrak, TiVo (s tivo) and TNS Media in an attempt to better define and value viewer data generated by set-top boxes.