Updated II: Arbitron to Launch TV Metric

Arbitron is betting it can launch a successful out-of-home TV service just months after Nielsen suspended its out-of-home venture with Integrated Media Measurement Inc. Called ARB-TV, a custom suite of audience measurement services will leverage the installed portable people meter radio panels to also track out-of-home viewing to traditional TV.

According to Alton Adams, executive vp of Arbitron, the new research product has one client, which he declined to name.

The local ARB-TV will be available in markets where Arbitron uses the PPM to measure radio audiences, in 15 top local markets such as New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. The company has plans to roll out the PPM to the top 50 markets by the end of 2010.

Nielsen’s service was in operation for nearly a year, managing to sign two clients, ESPN and Zenith Optimedia.

While Arbitron sees ARB-TV as closing a very visible gap in TV measurement, Nielsen said it did not see a lot of demand for the research.

“Actual exposure to television advertising outside the home is minimal,” Nielsen said in a statement. “Our clients have told us that their priority is measuring the intersection of Internet and television, and that’s where our primary focus is at this time. We will continue to research out-of-home technologies and methodologies. Our goal is to begin to measure out-of-home viewing through out convergence panel in 2010.”

Earlier this week (June 22), Nielsen issued a report based on its short-lived service, quantifying the out-of-home TV audience as providing a 2.6 percent lift to ratings.

While many have speculated this is Arbitron’s first step in going head-to-head with Nielsen in local TV measurement, Arbitron said it has no plans to measure TV viewing.

“We view this service as a complement to what is offered today,” Adams said.