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Nielsen to provide TV, online and mobile viewer data in Time Warner deal

The Nielsen Co. on Wednesday announced a new, seven-year deal with Time Warner pulling together all services used by the company's different businesses into one agreement.

The deal involves Nielsen providing viewership data on television, online platforms and mobile sources, along with research on advertising and consumer reaction.

The agreement also comes as the TV industry continues to buzz over reported discussions by some of media's biggest players to create a consortium aimed at creating similar measurements — a consortium that one news outlet, the Financial Times, said included Time Warner.

A representative for Nielsen continued the company's policy of not commenting directly on the consortium, saying such talk would be speculation without a concrete announcement from organizers. No figures were given on the price of the deal with Time Warner, which includes outlets such as Turner Broadcasting, the CW network and HBO.

But the company did tout its new agreement as demonstration of its commitment toward developing "three screen" measurements — data across TV, online and mobile sources increasingly demanded by advertisers desperate to learn how consumers' online video and mobile usage affect traditional television consumption.

And the company's sprawling data-collection complex in Oldsmar, which employs hundreds of people, is expected to play an important role in that effort.

"Over the last three years, we've invested more than a billion dollars of research and development as part of this effort," Nielsen vice chairwoman Susan Whiting wrote in a message to employees Monday. "Just as clear is the commitment of some of our largest clients, who have recently renewed multiyear contracts with us for television, online, mobile and other measurement services."

The Financial Times reported last week that the four major broadcast networks, along with advertisers such as Procter & Gamble, cable providers such as Time Warner and ad-buying firms such as Starcom Media­Vest were talking about creating a consortium.

No company participating in the consortium talks has agreed to speak on the record, leaving open the question of its specific goals. With Nielsen possibly years away from developing a full system of measurement across platforms, some industry experts say the consortium may be an attempt to speed up the development process.

"Increasingly, there is this voracious appetite to understand how consumers use media across all these platforms," said Shari Anne Brill, an analyst at media-buying firm Carat USA. "(Advertising) buyers and sellers want some quickly as possible … (but) it has to be a balance between being right and pure and fast."

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction: Nielsen Company vice chairman Susan Whiting wrote a message Monday to employees about new efforts to measure media viewership. A story in Thursday's Times incorrectly named recipients of the message.

Nielsen to provide TV, online and mobile viewer data in Time Warner deal 08/19/09 [Last modified: Thursday, August 20, 2009 3:07pm]
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