Nielsen sues comScore over ratings launch

Information, data, and measurement company Nielsen has filed a lawsuit to stop rival media measurement and analytics company comScore from using its technology to launch a competing service for measuring television audiences.

The complaint, filed with the US District Court in Manhattan, seeks an injunction to stop the launch of comScore’s Extended TV service, which Nielsen alleges would incorporate its proprietary Portable People Meter data.

The dispute stems from Nielsen’s 2013 purchase of Arbitron Inc, which was completed subject to the companies promising federal regulators to preserve competition for ‘cross-platform’ services measuring both television and online viewership.

Nielsen contends that in 2014 it agreed that conScore could use Portable People Meter data to measure both TV and online audiences but that the contract excluded using the data for “individual, stand-alone services”, which it said include Extended TV.

With several large contracts up for renewal Nielsen clams it would suffer “irreparable harm to its business through [the] loss of important customers and decreased market share” if comScore launched Extended TV, perhaps by the end of 2017.

According to the complaint, Nielsen has filed for arbitration as required by the contract to establish comScore’s alleged breach, but is entitled to seek a court-ordered injunction before the arbitration is resolved.

In a Statement, comScore confirms that the arbitration demand and lawsuit both relate to an order and consent agreement as a result of Nielsen’s prior acquisition of Arbitron. “In 2013, the Federal Trade Commission ordered Nielsen to provide comScore the ability to use certain Arbitron data until 2021. Nielsen, by filing its arbitration demand and lawsuit, is challenging the scope of comScore’s use of the data,” it says.

“comScore intends to vigorously contest Nielsen’s actions, as comScore believes it is acting properly under the FTC’s Order. comScore also believes that its contracts with Nielsen require the matter to be resolved exclusively through arbitration, and not in the Courts. Due to the pending nature of these legal proceedings, we have no further comment at this time,” it concludes.

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