Comscore, VideoAmp, iSpot Get Early Nod From TV-Network Consortium Aiming to Devise Nielsen Rival

The nation’s TV networks are picking their own measurement team.

The U.S. Joint Industry Committee, a group backed by Fox, NBCUniversal, Paramount, TelevisaUnivision, and Warner Bros. Discovery, has granted a conditional certification to audience-measurement technologies developed by Comscore, VideoAmp and iSpot, three start-ups that have worked in recent years to challenge Nielsen’s status as the media industry’s primary means of audience tabulation. The media companies are working with Open AP, the industry consortium that has in the past been used to create standard definitions of audience segments that can be used by advertisers, no matter the media company with which they transact.

The JIC said it expects full certification to be awarded in early 2024 to those who pass the
data evaluation.

“It is clear that — while there is still work to be done — we are moving closer to having more currencies that are commercially ready for scalable transactions across both buyers and sellers,” the JIC said in a prepared statement.

The TV networks are hurtling toward a showdown with Nielsen, which they feel has been too slow to embrace new technology and has not done enough to bolster older methodologies. The networks’ stance gained new ballast in 2022, when Nielsen’s national ratings service lost its accreditation. Nielsen has won it back and has in recent months moved forward with its own new technology offering, NielsenOne.

The prospect of the networks picking the technology that will help count audiences and set advertising rates once might have been turned down outright. But more parties seem willing to at least incorporate first-party data from media outlets. Nielsen nearly adopted such information from Amazon Prime Video for tabulating national viewership of “Thursday Night Football” before an impassioned outcry from the networks postponed the transaction.

The networks are trying to certify measurement processes with uniform benchmarks by the spring of 2024, before the industry’s next “upfront” ad-sales market begins. The JIC aims to develop a set of standards, and, in what may be a major enticement to Madison Avenue, will create a set of streaming viewership data from the programmers themselves, information that at present is largely proprietary and not often disclosed to the larger market. The new consortium will also engage a third-party audit firm to verify the accuracy of the streaming data and intends to work with several industry organizations that work with marketers, including the VAB and Association of National Advertisers.

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