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Group Formed to Create Consistent Set-Top TV Data

Cable, satellite and telco multichannel video distributors
have formed a broad coalition to create guidelines putting television viewing data
from set-top boxes into a consistent, accurate and usable form.

The group, working with NCC Media, which sells local commercials for the
operators, will be working with the Media Ratings Council to develop industry
guidelines so that the data will be the same from operator to operator, making
it more useful and valuable.

As television has become digital and viewing has scatters to devices ranging
from computer screens to cell phones, old forms of measurement have had
difficulty keeping up.

Data from the millions of set-top boxes promises to provide more accurate and
granular information about TV viewing.

But getting the data into the hands of
research companies, media outlets and media buyers has been slowed because the
individual distributors who own it have business and legal issues to deal with.

Operators believe the data is valuable and want to make sure they're being
compensated for it. They are also legally required to keep customer data
private and must make sure appropriate safeguards are in place before any data
is released.

NCC Chief Operating Officer Ken Little acknowledged that there are many
different efforts out now trying to find ways to use set-top data, including
Canoe Ventures, set up by the major cable companies.

"They're all good undertakings, but none include the players with the core
data," Little said.

Little said there were 14 operators in the coalition. He said names were not
being released at this point, but that it included many of the industry's

He added that the group was formed strictly to set guidelines and that were no
plans for the group to create a business.

Other parties, including research companies such as the Nielsen Co., media
owners and media buyers will be invited to participate in the guideline setting
process, the group said.

"The MRC is pleased to participate with NCC Media and the MVPDs on this
initiative particularly because it will set the foundation for incorporating
digital video viewership data into the industry's toolset for audience measurement,"
said George Ivie, executive director and CEO of the MRC. "This will enable the
responsible leveraging of this valuable, granular data by our industry."

Also announcing an attempt at a new way of looking at audience research Tuesday
was the Coalition for Innovative Media Measurement.

CIMM said it would be bringing a single-source cross-media measurement
initiative used in the United Kingdom known as "TouchPoints" to the

"We scoured the globe to find the most consumer-centric cross-platform
approaches before identifying and initiating a thorough consultant-led study of
U.K. Touchpoints," explained Clarke. "It is by far the most comprehensive
and provides the best way to link cross-media measurement and understand media
usage in the context of daily life activities. We're delighted to be partnering
with MBI to bring this innovative measurement tool to the US Media industry."

The project, spearheaded by the Media Behavior Institute, will include a sample
of 1000 men and women ages 18-54 drawn from respondents who have completed GfK
MRI's widely used "Survey of the American Consumer," and will employ eDiaries
in which participants will record their media behavior at 30 minute intervals
over 10 days. That data will be fused with existing media measurement services.
This "hub and fusion" approach to cross-platform media measurement
provides a time-based way of understanding consumers' media behavior.

The final database will, for the first time in the U.S., allow media planners,
buyers and sellers a look into the full picture of how respondents use all
types of media and how to measure unduplicated reach across all media,
according to CIMM.

The study will run from September 2010 to February 2011. CIMM members will have
exclusive, unlimited access to the Hub Database & the Integrated Channel
Planning Tool for six months.