Nielsen, CBS Settle Their Differences With Deal Renewal


After all of the noise and back-and-forth statements, along with suggestions that Comscore was about score a big new partner in lieu of the nation’s dominant audience measurement data services provider, Nielsen and CBS Corporation have a new deal. The announcement came Saturday afternoon, putting an 11-day stalemate to an end.

It’s a renewal of an agreement between Nielsen and CBS that encompasses national, digital and local audience measurement, and was signed Friday — assumingly after hours, prompting the unusual distribution of the announcement over the weekend.

The renewal encompasses a range of services; financial terms weren’t disclosed.

The deal allows CBS Television Network, CBS Television Distribution, Showtime Networks, Smithsonian, Pop, CBS Sports Network and CBS’ 27 owned-and-operated local television stations to continue to use Nielsen’s Total Audience measurement services.

Nielsen CEO David Kenny said, “We are thrilled to continue our long partnership with them as we innovate for the future.”

Joe Ianniello, the acting President/CEO at CBS Corporation, noted that the new agreement “meets our strategic goals, and will allow us to benefit from important advances in measurement as they are rolled out.”

Ianniello also used the opportunity to peacock, adding, “CBS programming is perennially the most-watched content rated by Nielsen, and there is significant upside ahead as next-generation advertising continues to flourish.”

The new pact between Nielsen and CBS affirms statements made repeatedly by Nielsen since the first of the year that it expected to arrive “at a mutually beneficial agreement.”

But, negotiations were clearly rocky.

On January 3, CBS issued a statement suggesting that the company and Nielsen were far apart on a new agreement.

“The entire media industry is aware of the need for complete and accurate measurement across platforms,” CBS said. “While Nielsen has made some strides in this area, progress has not been what we and many clients would like, and local TV measurement is particularly challenged.”

With its unhappiness unclear, CBS added, “Nielsen continues to use their market power to bundle disparate services and raise prices for services that don’t sufficiently address ongoing changes in the industry. As a result, we are currently at a contractual impasse, although we continue to be open to negotiating a fair deal that makes strategic and financial sense for CBS. If we cannot come to an agreement with Nielsen, we will continue to employ the many viable alternatives available to us, including Comscore.”

Eight days later, it appears that “fair deal that makes strategic and financial sense” came from Nielsen, putting to rest rumors that CBS was willing to say goodbye to Nielsen just as Gray Television has, relying mainly on Comscore for TV ratings data to provide marketers and media buyers.

Perhaps a Jan. 7 announcement from Nielsen helped sway CBS. Nielsen revealed that it will now include mobile audiences—inclusive of YouTube—within its Total Ad Ratings reporting.

Additionally, the measurement provider will expand its coverage to include OTT audiences from Digital Ad Ratings.

“Beyond providing a fuller understanding of campaign audiences, Total Ad Ratings will offer the ability to compare the performance of ads delivered through TV and digital using comparable metrics based on real people and real data,” Nielsen said.