Buyers: Nielsen-Arbitron faces big hurdles
They're concerned about anti-trust implications and pricing
December 19, 2012
The media world was abuzz this morning over the news that Nielsen is acquiring Arbitron, its sometime rival and sometime partner, in a deal worth more than $1.2 billion.
Media people were surprised that the two sides were able to keep the deal quiet as long as they did without any leaks.
But their astonishment quickly gave way to concerns about what such a deal will mean to media.
Buyers contacted by Media Life raised three main issues: Whether the deal will pass muster with anti-trust regulators, how the merger will affect Nielsen’s client pricing, and what new research and ratings the company will be able to offer.
Nielsen dislikes the term monopoly, but the reality is that there’s no competing source of TV ratings. The $65 billion TV ad market is based on Nielsen data, and though buyers have long supported efforts to launch viable competitors, none has succeeded in challenging Nielsen.
Even an Arbitron push to measure television ratings was aborted a few years ago.
The Justice Department will look into the deal because it combines the two biggest media ratings providers, Nielsen in TV and Arbitron largely on radio.
“I think if government regulators approve the acquisition there will probably be some restrictions,” says Brad Adgate, senior vice president of research at Horizon Media.
Scarborough Research is a joint venture between Nielsen and Arbitron. Analysts are already speculating that one of the antitrust requirements will be the divestment of the property, which collects data on newspaper audiences, among other things.
But a consolidated ratings service makes sense to some.
“The consolidation of rating services to reach across all media forms is an inevitable play for the bigger players like Nielsen,” says Paul Benjou, principal and founder at the Center for Media Management Strategies.
Media people generally dislike consolidation, because the lack of competition leads to slower development of and less incentive to produce new and better products.
Still, media buyers don’t foresee any huge protests surrounding the deal.
“I don’t believe there will be any [backlash],” Benjou says.
Buyers also are concerned that the near-monopoly on TV and radio ratings will lead to price increases for Nielsen clients, which they’ll be helpless to stop.
“A competitive marketplace with viable alternatives is almost always a good thing to have, especially when it comes to pricing,” says Bernie Shimkus, vice president at Harmelin Insight, the research arm at Harmelin Media.
The potential upside to the merger is the opportunity to develop truly cross-platform measurement that media people have been clamoring for for years.
Adgate says Nielsen has already announced plans to revamp the way it collects local TV market viewing, and Arbitron’s portable people meter technology could help with demographic viewing data collection.
“Ultimately we would hope that there would be improvement and efficiencies gained in the measurement within individual media, as well as across channels,” Shimkus says.
Tags: arbitron, arbitron nielsen, buyers, cross platform, media, media people, nielsen, nielsen acquiring arbitron, nielsen arbitron, nielsen arbitron antitrust, nielsen arbitron pricing, people, radio, ratings, research, tv
CW’s DC Comics crossover finishes strong
Imagining local advertising, 10 years down the road
So cool: Petting cheetahs at the Canberra airport
And now, iHeartRadio hops into on-demand music
Rachel, all they do here is fight and fight
Introducing Media Life’s Out of Home Premium
Weekend TV: College Football Playoffs take shape
Starting Sunday, a new place to watch the NFL
Liga MX playoffs score on Spanish-language TV
The best sports cities: Rankings for big and small
‘Circle of Love’ lifts NBC to best Wednesday in years
This week’s broadcast ratings
Programming blog: What’s canceled and renewed
- Myra Nussbaum becomes group creative director at DDB Chicago
- Claudio de Souza rises to vice president at Isobar U.S.
- Agathe Guerrier becomes head of strategy at BBH Los Angeles
- Stephanie Lee-Pang becomes executive director at Grey New York
- Masami Yamamoto and Lee Straus rise at NBC
- Scot Gillespie becomes VP and CTO at The Washington Post
- Lauren Johnson becomes integrated ad director at Esquire
- Tim Taliaferro becomes editor in chief at Texas Monthly
- Matthew Breen becomes editorial director at Logo
- Chase Green, Lynneise Joseph and Katrina Pallant rise at Africa Channel
- Joe Biden guesting on CBS's 'The Late Show'
This week’s broadcast ratings
This week’s cable ratings
This week’s top-rated movies, songs and books
This week’s daypart ratings
This month’s digital traffic data: August 2016
This month’s new media traffic data
Media supervisor opening in New York
Media buyer/planner position in Madison, WI
Digital buyer/planner opening in Madison, WI
Cincinnati agency needs a senior media strategist (online)
Senior media buyer position in San Diego