Nielsen Launches Review Of Buy-Side Segment

Nielsen announced that its earnings were down in the second quarter and that the company will conduct an in-depth strategic review of its troubled Buy segment.

The company also announced that CEO Mitch Barns will retire at the end of the year and that James Attwood will become executive chairman of the board.

Second quarter net income fell 45% to $72 milion, or 20 cents a share, from $131 million, or 37 cents a share a year ago. The second quarter 2018 earnings included a $65 million restructuring charge.

Revenue were flat at $1.647 billion, up 0.2%.

“In the second quarter, we continued to move forward on our multi-year transformations across Watch, Buy, and Operations. However, our progress was not reflected in our financial results, which are disappointing and came in below our expectations, and we are lowering our outlook for 2018,” said Nielsen CFO Jamere Jackson.

The new outlook calls for revenue to be down 1%, compared to prior guidance of up about 3%, and net income per share to be between 95 cents and $1, compared to $1.50 to $1.56 earlier.

“We are addressing the challenges we face with the greatest sense of urgency and remain sharply focused on our key initiatives to drive value in the long term. Our cost reduction efforts are ahead of schedule and we are accelerating cost-out targets,” Jackson said.

Nielsen’s Watch business, which includes its TV ratings service, grew with the adoption of its Total Audience Measurement platform.

“However, the General Data Protection Regulation and changes in the consumer data privacy landscape impacted our growth rates in the near-term as clients and partners grapple with the changes and work to ensure compliance,” Jackson said.

Watch revenue rose 4.5% to $858 million. Audience measurement of video and text revenue rose 7.4%, including contributions from Gracenote.

Related: Gracenote Helps vMVPD Subs Find Programming 

Buy segment revenue was down 4.1% to $789 million. Nielsen’s buy segment provides marketing information about what people buy on a global basis.

The review of the Buy segment is being conducted by management and the board, Nielsen said. The Board does not have a fixed timetable for completion of the review nor has it made any decisions at this time.

Nielsen said Barns will remain through the end of the year and oversee the companies effort to automate and streamline operations.

Barns joined Nielsen more than 20 years ago.

“Mitch has left an indelible mark on Nielsen—his commitment to integrity, openness, values and engagement will continue to be the heart of this company for years to come,” commented Attwood. “I, along with the rest of the Board of Directors, thank him for his service.”

The Nielsen Board of Directors will immediately commence a comprehensive search process to identify a new CEO.

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.