comScore Plans to Move Fast Following Closing

With its acquisition of Rentrak completed, comScore plans to move fast with a plan to offer the TV industry comprehensive multiplatform audience measurement.

“It’s not going to be months. It’s going to be weeks,” said Serge Matta, who was CEO of comScore and now holds that post at the new company. “We’re going to move very, very fast and we’ll provide a plan for when all of this is going to happen.”

The new comScore—Rentrak is now a wholly owned subsidiary—won’t be waiting till it has all the pieces of the puzzle in place.

“We will provide it in phases and we’ll be very transparent,” Matta said in an interview with Broadcasting & Cableshortly after the deal closed.

The $700 million acquisition, announced in September, combines comScore’s digital audience measurement and audience tracking with Rentrak’s set-top box data based measurement of video-on-demand and local station viewing.

The combination might be able to present measurement leader Nielsen with its most serious challenger in years.

Related: Rentrak-comScore Combo Turns Up Heat on Nielsen

Matta said the new comScore will hit the ground running, though the two companies have been forced to stay at arms distance until the merger was completed.

“The great thing about this merger was we’ve known one another for a long, long time and it was bringing us together was obvious. The process was long, but it’s all good stuff.”

Bill Livek, who was CEO of Rentrak and becomes executive vice chairman and president of comScore, says the industry is ready for a measurement system that incorporates both TV and digital measurement.

“We just came back from NATPE meeting with the presidents and CEO of the television station groups that are already Rentrak clients and the excitement about merging their digital data sets in to Rentrak’s massive and passive local information has never been higher,” Livek said.

On the other end of the platform, interactive publishers were taking about how addressable advertising was causing interactivity to merger with television. “Clearly our timing is around both of these markets coming together to describe their viewers across every screen,” he said. “And we’re the only ones doing it at scale.”

The comScore execs declined to address Nielsen’s new Total Audience Measurement initiative. “The only comment we’ll make is we believe the market functions best when there’s two currencies,” Livek said, pointing to the bond market with Moody’s and S&P.

He noted that Rentrak already provides currency metrics in local and national media. “We’re very fortunate that the market recognizes that TV and digital function best when you can a look at two different data sets and comScore is excited about the future currencies we’re going to create,” Livek said.

Livek declined to speculate whether that meant most Nielsen clients would also be comScore clients. “We can’t speak on what they do inside their own businesses, but we’re highly confident that they'll be subscribing to comScore,” he said.

One big customer will be giant media buyer GroupM and its parent WPP, which owns nearly 20% of the new company. Matta said WPP will have no seat on the board and no board observers. “They’ll remain a customer and, we hope, even a larger customer, like all the other holding companies.”

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.