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2016: The Critical Year For Measurement

Anyone who has been around the media business for any length of time has heard the song before – [insert calendar year here] is the year we will finally experience the joy of true cross platform ratings measurement.  But at the risk of having to eat crow in the next six months, 2016 is beginning to shape up as the year it finally happens.

In a recent research report, top media and telecom analyst Tom Eagan of Telsey Advisory Group laid out the case for 2016 as the Year of Measurement, and it seems as if the pieces are finally begin falling  into place.

According to Eagan, with the Summer Olympics and a Presidential election slated for 2016, an additional $3.5 billion in incremental ad revenue will flow into the market, increasing “pressure for TV networks to demonstrate the benefits of their platform despite declining ratings and low-level targeting ability.”

That makes sense – with TV ad revenue growth dwindling cross the board, content providers have been scrambling for ways to take up the slack, and all have pointed to the absence of a reliable way to measure what is becoming an increasingly large audience that watches programming outside of the living room.

Add that to mounting evidence that cord cutting is no longer a mere annoyance to pay TV companies – pay TV continues to lose share as housing growth climbs, which means either no one’s watching or a growing number of people are finding other than traditional means to watch shows.

There are a growing number of companies that claim to have the full measurement answer. Rentrak has gained a lot of traction in the past few years with its set-top based measurement and has landed deals with broadcasters and ad buyers by the bucketful. And with new products like MMX Multi-Platform, MMX Mobile and vCE, comScore has  also has been at the forefront of multi-platform measurement.

Nielsen has been taking it on the chin as content providers line up to criticize the lack of a new measurement currency, but the industry standard-bearer has not been sitting idly by either.

Eagan noted that in its second quarter conference call July 28, Nielsen indicated that recent contract renewals with entertainment companies included expanded measurement requirements, which he saw as a “signal that they were preparing for a cross platform measurement.”

He added that with the roll out of new services like  DCR (Digital Content Ratings), its OTT audience measurement deal with Roku; and VOD measurement in the second half of this year, Nielsen “appears positioned to create a cross-platform currency.”

Creating that new currency is vital.

“The successful launch of these new services, will of course, be critical as will the market's (and the players') willingness to coalesce around a common currency,” Eagan wrote.