A group of the nation's largest media companies, advertisers and agencies are banding together to accelerate the development of cross-platform TV measurement and the incorporation of audience measurement based on cable and satellite set-top boxes.
The group, which expects to announce its plans next month, hopes to commission new audience research that would provide single-source measures of video viewing across all platforms, including video on demand, time-shifting and the Web.
According to a report in the Financial Times today, companies involved in the collaboration include media giants such as NBC Universal, CBS, Time Warner, News Corp., Viacom and Walt Disney; media agencies like GroupM and Starcom MediaVest Group; and marketers such as Procter & Gamble, AT&T and Unilever.
The goal of the group is to propel research companies Nielsen included to laser-focus on multi-screen measurement and set-top box data. While Nielsen, which owns Adweek, would be a likely bidder, other research firms could also bid on the as-yet undefined project.
"We're not establishing a competitor [to Nielsen]. We couldn't if we wanted to," said one media research executive who declined to be identified talking about the venture. The exec added that news of this project is premature and that the main parties involved have not really fleshed exactly how they plan to proceed.
The TV industry already has one committee, the Nielsen-funded Council for Research Excellence, charged with conducting research that could lead to a better ratings service. This latest effort seems similar.
"We need a healthy dose of bipartisanship," said Alan Wurtzel, president of research and media development of NBC Universal, in June during a recent Advertising Research Foundation conference in New York. "In every civilized world except the U.S. they create a structure where the industry entities take direct responsibility for the research."
At the very least, the companies will provide research services with a central source that can relay the priorities of all the stakeholders involved in TV advertising.
Nielsen Business Media