In a move aimed at creating the leading cross-platform measurement company, media industry measurement specialists comScore and Rentrak are to merge. Combining the companies will result in a more formidable rival to Nielsen.
Under the terms of the stock-for-stock merger – estimated at $800 million – Rentrak will merge into a wholly-owned subsidiary of comScore, and each share of Rentrak will be converted into the right to receive 1.15 shares of comScore. Upon completion of the merger, comScore shareholders are expected to own approximately 66.5 per cent and Rentrak shareholders are expected to own approximately 33.5 per cent of the combined company on a fully diluted basis.
In a blog post, Serge Matta, ComScore’s CEO and Bill Livek, Rentrak’s vice chairman and chief executive, say the rationale for the merger is quite simple: “Together we have an improved ability to deliver what our clients and the media industry have long been asking for – a comprehensive cross-platform measurement currency that accounts for all the ways in which content is consumed, whether that viewing happens on live or time-shifted TV, video on demand, desktop, mobile, over-the-top devices, or in the movie theatre.”
They note that over the better part of the past decade, TV measurement has grown more complex as people began viewing content on their own terms and on their own time. “At the same time, we’ve seen the emergence of digital media, which has expanded from the PC to mobile to an increasing number of connected devices in the home. Putting all of these pieces together in a comprehensive media measurement system is no small feat, and it requires completely new rules of engagement,” they say.
“If you think about it, traditional media measurement was developed at a time when you could count the number of networks on one hand. But fast forward to today – nearly 70 years later – and the existing measurement standard still relies on the same basic approach. As consumers’ viewing habits increasingly shift across time and platform, it’s no wonder we see traditional ratings in decline even though people are watching more content than ever,” they add.
“The time has come to build this measurement system of the present and future, and that’s what the merger of comScore and Rentrak will allow us to do. Fortunately we are not starting from square one: in fact, both companies have individually made enormous progress in revolutionising TV and cross-platform measurement. Rentrak was the first to begin reporting TV ratings using set-top box data as a core asset, and comScore was the first company to provide unduplicated, person-based reporting of audiences across, TV, desktop, smartphone and tablet. Both these measurement systems were built using census data, which will be central to next generation media measurement,” they advise.
“In terms of people power, comScore and Rentrak bring to the combined organisation deep knowledge, experience, expertise and skill. In addition, the companies’ products and information assets are second to none. Rentrak’s expansive footprint of video on demand usage combined with more than 100 million televisions and devices will be unified with comScore’s massive digital assets to deliver national and local coverage at scale. This granular insight into TV viewing is complemented by comScore’s extensive digital measurement capabilities, which are based on a panel of two million global internet users and its census network covering 1.8 trillion digital interactions monthly. On the big screen, the merger promises new digital and analytics tools for content creators and distributors across the worldwide movie industry,” they suggest.
“Together all the pieces are in place to get it right, to measure content and advertising wherever and whenever it happens, and to develop a currency that allows buyers and sellers to transact in the cross-platform marketplace. As you can tell, comScore and Rentrak couldn’t be more excited to expand our relationship and begin working more closely together to accelerate the pace of innovation, and give the media industry what it’s been clamouring for,” they conclude.
“Increasingly fragmented viewership of TV requires a cross-device system built on big data that can deliver precision planning, buying and evaluation of media. This means better accounting for the valuable viewing that happens on long-tail networks, in local markets, and across digital platforms. We applaud the merger of comScore and Rentrak as a major step toward realising this vision,” said Irwin Gotlieb, Global Chairman of GroupM.
Artie Bulgrin, ESPN’s SVP of Global Research & Analytics, whose team laid the groundwork for cross-platform measurement by collaborating with comScore on the original Project Blueprint, said the merger represented a huge advancement for TV and cross-platform measurement. “Project Blueprint helped make the industry’s first syndicated cross-platform measurement service a reality. By augmenting that work with tens of millions of set-top boxes and more granular reporting from Rentrak, this is a meaningful step forward to closing the measurement gap,” he added.
“We have entered a new era of media accountability where massive data sets are unlocking more detailed insights about how advertising exposure influences in-store purchase. The comScore-Rentrak merger amplifies the power of census data in person-level television and digital media measurement, and IRI looks forward to continued partnership with these industry leaders in advancing the ability to measure cross-screen sales lift,” commented Andrew Appel, President and CEO of SymphonyIRI Group.