MRC Eyes Set-Top Box Guidelines

With a number of research firms in the market with ratings services based on set-top box data, it was only a matter of time before The Media Rating Council got involved.

The MRC has hooked up with cable rep firm NCC Media, and a broad coalition of cable, satellite and telco organizations to collaborate on the development of guidelines for the creation of consistent digital video viewership data.

The coalition, announced Tuesday (Aug. 10) is not the first to tackle set-top box guidelines for use in media research, but with buy-in from the cable and telco companies, it may have a better chance of getting all the cable companies to cooperate and talk about the inner workings of their systems.

“At least people are getting together to try and come to agreement on some guidelines. You need broad participation,” said Pat Liguori, svp, research and electronic measurement for the ABC owned TV stations and chair of the Council for Research Excellence set top box committee.

The MRC-led coalition intends to develop “best practices” surrounding terms, definitions and calculations for accumulating digital viewing data, and recommendations for processing procedures, such as data capture, editing and reporting. Once the guidelines are drafted, the MRC intends to seek input from the broader media industry.

“The MRC is pleased to participate with NCC Media and the MVPDs on this initiative particularly because it will set the foundation for incorporating digital video viewership data into the industry’s toolset for audience measurement,” said George Ivie, executive director and CEO of the MRC. “This will enable the responsible leveraging of this valuable, granular data by our industry.”

Though Canoe (the joint venture formed by the top six MSO’s to leverage STB data and addressable advertising) was not formally included in the MRC’s guidelines release, the joint venture issued a statement that it was working on the technology end.

“Canoe Ventures applauds the Media Rating Council for leading the charge in addressing the need for a common set of standards for set top box data, specifically the need for business guidelines and industry definitions that cover all digital TV operators. Canoe, in cooperation with CableLabs, is also involved in addressing the other part of the need: for technical standards, specifications and a common data model.”