Nielsen Declines to Partner on Arbitron’s PPM Service

NEW YORK Nielsen Media Research could be facing competition in local market television ratings. The TV ratings giant, owned by Adweek parent VNU, has declined to exercise its option to form a joint venture with Arbitron to commercialize a portable people meter-ratings service, Arbitron and NMR said late today.

Nielsen has been working with Arbitron in the development of the PPM since May 2000, providing financial support and research expertise. Nielsen, however, did not join with Arbitron’s current demonstration in Houston.

Despite Nielsen’s decision to let the option agreement expire on Feb. 28, it left the door open to pursue discussions with Arbitron about using the PPM to measure out-of-home TV viewing.

“We recognize the appeal of a portable, single-source measurement tool,” said Susan Whiting, president and CEO of NMR. “While [PPM] may offer considerable benefits for radio research, we believe that a one-size-fits-all measurement system is not the approach for a currency in today’s complex television markets.”

Arbitron said it would continue to pursue its previously announced strategy of rolling out a PPM-based radio ratings service, beginning with Houston. A company spokesperson said that the radio service does not preclude the company from measuring TV viewing, either on its own or with another partner.

Today’s announcement from both companies does not affect Project Apollo, the national marketing research service, in which Arbitron and VNU are partners.

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