Rentrak CEO Calls Jabs From Nielsen ‘Odd’

The CEO of Rentrak found it strange that while Nielsen was explaining a mistake it made in calculating ratings, it took time out to criticize Rentrak.

“Obviously they had a conference call because they fell and broke their arm,” said Rentrak CEO Bill Livek, referring to his ratings competitor. “My mother taught me a long time ago that when someone falls and breaks a limb, don’t laugh.”

While declining to comment on Nielsen’s measurement error, Livek said “I did think it was quite odd that they decided while they fell and broke their arm they’re calling their neighbor pejorative things.”

During a conference call that focused on a software problem that led to viewing of broadcast and syndicated shows being incorrectly attributed to ABC, Nielsen global president Steve Hasker, criticized Rentrak, which had been in the news for acquiring some of Kantar Media’s U.S. assets from WPP. In exchange, WPP took a stake in Rentrak and its GroupM media buying unit became a Rentrak client.

Hasker said Nielsen had to respond to inaccuracies in Rentrak’s recent announcements, and also criticized its methodology and capabilities. When Hasker made his remarks, they were on background. After reporters protested, they were put on the record.

Livek maintains that Rentrak’s data is census level in the movie business and for video on demand. As for linear and recorded TV, once households from Cox and DirecTV are incorporated, it will be getting data from 60 million television sets.

“Rentrak believe that by measuring massive and passive information, and then statistically adjusting for what you can’t measure, that’s a better alternative,” he said. As for whether that’s currency or not, that will be up to clients to decide, he said.

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.