Two Shrinking Companies, One New Deal


Rumors continue to swirl about the future of Cox Media Group‘s TV station group.

Now, there’s even talk that the company wants to deal all of its Dayton holdings.

With that backdrop, Cox has inked a new ratings deal with Nielsen — a company also looking to pare down its assets.

Nielsen and Cox early today (1/17) revealed that a multi-year renewal agreement for television and audio measurement services has been reached. The agreement covers all Cox Media Group’s local television and radio stations, as well as its CoxReps and Videa entities.

The future of Cox’s TV stations, however, remains in question. Sources tell RBR+TVBR that bids for the properties are now expected to arrive at the company’s Atlanta headquarters within the next 30 days, with a late February announcement likely.

Further, a source close to the matter notes that Cox is interested in selling all of its heritage, grandfathered media cluster in Dayton. There, Cox owns the Dayton Daily News; radio stations WHIO-AM & FM, a News/Talk simulcast, market-leading Country WHKO-FM 99.1, and Classic Hits “The Eagle 95.3 & 101.1”; and top-rated WHIO-7, the market’s CBS affiliate.

“We are pleased to continue our relationship with Nielsen as an integral part of our business,” said Cox Media Group President Kim Guthrie, who has repeatedly told RBR+TVBR that Cox’s TV stations are not for sale and that the company seeks a partnership or merger. “By partnering together, we combine our unique business knowledge with Nielsen’s suite of data, products, and insights, to build solutions that maximize advertising results for our customers.”

The new Nielsen agreement allows Cox’s stations to continue to use “a comprehensive suite of Nielsen data to demonstrate value to advertisers.”

“Cox Media Group is a pre-eminent integrated media company that has a strong record of driving business results for advertisers of all types and sizes,” said Nielsen Watch division President Megan Clarken.  “We are excited to renew our partnership and look forward to working with Cox to help them maximize results for their advertisers by leveraging Nielsen’s suite of gold-standard measurement services.”

Nielsen has its own issues. While its Watch segment is financially solid, it has been plagued by data issues that saw the recall of ratings in its Nielsen Audio division in late 2018. This followed other issues that cropped up across 2018, ranging from markets such as Los Angeles to Tampa-St. Petersburg. It is the Buy segment that Nielsen is exploring strategic alternatives for; no updates have been given on the division’s future.

Meanwhile, Nielsen has been challenged of late by Comscore as a formidable TV ratings currency alternative, with Gray Television nixing use of Nielsen data across all of its stations.