Comcast Looking to License Set-Top Data

Comcast is seeking to use and monetize the viewer data generated by its millions of set-top boxes.

The cable giant has talked about licensing the data from its subscribers with TV programmers and measurement companies, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The report says Comcast has talked with Walt Disney Co.’s ESPN, Time Warner’s Turner Broadcasting and Discovery Communications. It already provides data to NBCUniversal, which is owned by Comcast.

Comcast also talked with Nielsen, but rejected an offer that would have paid $100 million for an exclusive license to the data, the report said.

As TV viewing fragments, it is difficult for sample-based research to prove an accurate count of who is watching what, and the data from millions of set-top boxes is seen as a way to generate a more accurate picture.

Some other cable operators and satellite providers license set-top box data to research companies including Rentrak, which is merging with comScore to create a potential rival to Nielsen.

But as the largest cable operator, Comcast’s data would be particularly valuable and cover viewers in many of the nation’s largest markets.

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.