CNN Sees Big Audience in comScore Xmedia Data

Providing one of the earliest looks at comScore's new cross-platform ratings, CNN says Xmedia shows that on TV, desktop and mobile it reaches an unduplicated audience of 174 million people monthly—or more than half the U.S. population.

CNN is a launch partner of Xmedia. comScore declined to name its other launch partners, or to provide audience data for other networks.

The two largest audience measurement companies, comScore and Nielsen—the leader in the TV market—are racing to provide a cross-platform measurement system that includes viewing on all platforms and all devices.

Earlier this month, comScore said it had sent the first batch of its cross-platform video ratings to clients. The company, which acquired Rentrak earlier this year, said it expects to introduce a syndicated cross-platform measurement product in the fall.

Related: comScore to Deliver Data From Facebook

Nielsen is also working on a cross-platform product but said it was having issues with some clients. It delayed the syndication part of its total content ratings until the third quarter.

Robin Garfield, senior VP of research and scheduling at CNN, says the new ratings provide confirmation for the first time that multi-platform usage of CNN is additive, rather than cannibalistic.

Related: comScore Sends Clients First Cross-Platform Ratings

"In fact if you look at people who consume television only for example versus people who consume TV and desktop, or TV, desktop and mobile, you'll see that the people that use two platforms actually watch more television than the people who watch CNN TV alone," Garfield said. "And the people who consume CNN on TV, desktop and mobile are really like the Super Consumers. They're watching CNN close to 50% more than the people watching CNN alone."

Garfield said this was the first time CNN was able to measure its viewing across multiple platforms from a single source.

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"There's no question that TV continues to be our largest platform. That's true even when you look at millennials. Television is the largest millennial platform as well," she said.

"TV and digital media are natural complements, but without unduplicated audience metrics it is virtually impossible to plan, buy and sell media efficiently in a cross-media environment," said Gian Fulgoni, co-founder and chairman emeritus, comScore. "This study of CNN's cross-media audience is a great example of how a media brand with a strong footprint on TV, desktop and mobile can demonstrate its full value proposition to advertisers, while at the same time getting a better understanding of how its own viewers engage across different media touchpoints."

Related: Videology Adds More Data From Nielsen to Platform

The Xmedia data shows that CNN reaches 117 million people monthly with TV, 43 million via desktops and 56 million from mobile. Taking out the overlap, CNN had a total unduplicated audience of 174 million in December.

People who watch CNN on TV spend 3.6 hours with the channel. Those who use TV and desktops spent 5 hours on TV, plus 0.8 hours on the desktop. Those who use TV, desktop and mobile spend 5.1 hours per month on TV, 1.3 hours on desktop and 0.5 hours on mobile, according to the Xmedia data.

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This is upfront season and CNN will be using the new comScore data with advertising clients.

"CNN really has a material business across all our platforms. I think it's one of our unique selling propositions, and we're using it both to understand our consumers, to really use that knowledge to develop our editorial and our products across platforms, and then in turn to really educate our advertisers about how we're doing that so we can work closely with them and build the most effective plans," Garfield said.  "What we know from our body of work is the most effective advertising campaigns are the ones that are multiplatform."

CNN is also working with Nielsen on its cross-platform measurement.

"We're exploring all services that have multiplatform measurement. So we're excited to dig in and look at what Nielsen's products look like and what their data looks like," Garfield said.  "We like the idea of having multiple options and we think competition is good for the industry so we're looking forward to seeing more of what Nielsen is developing."

But at this point, Nielsen might be a bit behind. "They're really at an earlier stage, they don't have a syndicated product yet," she said.

Nielsen said it is working closely with clients on a schedule for his its new measurement system would be ready to be syndicated to the market.

“Nielsen’s total audience measurement is designed to deliver robust marketplace coverage and we’re pursuing this in a very consistent manner to allow all of our content owners, distributors and buyers a complete standardized view of consumer behavior,” said Kelly Abcarian, senior VP of product leadership at Nielsen. “And we cannot underestimate the importance of partnering with our clients through this transformation because Nielsen ratings are used today for media planning, buying and the currency is used for settlement.”

Abcarian said Nielsen’s network clients are already viewing their own data today. “We’re looking to bring this out to both the buy and sell side of the community in Q3.”

Working closely with comScore as a launch partner is important to CNN, because its users consume news content on multiple platforms.

"We feel that given the nature of CNN's platform we can help shape the service," Garfield said. "We're looking forward to helping them understand the kinds of things that we want to see, the kinds of things our advertisers want to see and for them to develop it."

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.