AT&T Signs New Nielsen Deal Including Set-Top Data

Nielsen said it signed a new agreement with AT&T that will incorporate set-top box data into ratings for DirecTV and U-verse.

The set-top data will be combined with the panel information that has traditionally used by Nielsen to produce ratings that are part of its new Total Audience measurement system.

AT&T’s data will be used to produce local and national TV ratings and will also be incorporated into other measurement products including Nielsen Scarborough, NLTV and Nielsen N-Score. Up till now, some of the largest cable and satellite operators have been conservative about how to use data generated from their subscribers.

The use of set-top box data to measure TV audiences has been a strength of Rentrak, which was acquired by comScore, which aims to be the first serious competition for Nielsen in years and provide national and local TV clients with an alternative measurement option.

The industry has been demanding more complete and more accurate measurement of TV viewing as more consumption occurs on non-linear platforms and digital devices. Nielsen plans to syndicate its new Total Content Ratings in March, but some networks, most notably NBC are pushing back, saying that the Total Content Ratings aren't ready to be released.

“Combining Nielsen’s high-quality panels with anonymized set-top box data from AT&T’s DIRECTV and U-Verse homes is at the center of our TV measurement strategy to enhance how TV viewing is measured. Nielsen is leveraging big data and its panel data to deliver comprehensive, reliable and in-depth measurement of how people consume content in today’s changing media landscape,” said Megan Clarken, president of Nielsen Product Leadership.

By working with providers such as AT&T to provide integrated big data, Nielsen said it will be able to to enhance and augment its measurement capabilities, further strengthening the currency measurement used by the industry to transact billions of advertising dollars.

“We continue to innovate and leverage all types of data in order to enhance our local and eventually national audience measurement solutions. The inclusion of data from various providers supplements Nielsen’s panel data by providing increased granularity and more robust insights broadening our total audience view,” Clarken said.

(Photo via FamZoo Staff's FlickrImage taken on May 25, 2016 and used per Creative Commons 2.0 license. The photo was cropped to fit 3x4 aspect ratio.)

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.