ComScore Completes $768M Merger With Rentrak In Bid For Cross-Screen Measurement

RentrakComScore and Rentrak have completed their merger, cinching a deal aimed at establishing new multiscreen currencies to rival TV ratings incumbent Nielsen.

The all-stock deal was originally valued at $732 million based on market prices at the time the deal was announced in September. The merger, which gained shareholder approvals late Friday, represented $767.7 million in final deal value, a company spokesperson confirmed to AdExchanger Monday.

“We have heard from our clients and stakeholders across the industry, and the message has been very clear: Measurement needs to evolve,” wrote Serge Matta, CEO of comScore, in a memo announcing the deal’s closure. “We will provide a new model of measurement for the cross-platform world.”

ComScore says it can combine demographic and census-based information from Rentrak with behavioral data from its heritage digital measurement business.

The combined company now claims to touch 120 million video-on-demand screens, 40 million TV sets and 40,000 box offices, which combined with behavioral data across 260 million desktop and 160 million smartphone screens, adds more depth to its audience data set.

Presently, there are no common methodologies for measuring over-the-top viewing, but comScore sees significant opportunity there.

As a combined company, comScore and Rentrak are focused on developing a Total Home Panel, which is intended to measure multiscreen viewing at the household and program level across smart TV devices such as Roku and Apple TV. 

ComScore’s Total Home Panel has penetration into 800 opted-in households representing some 10,000 devices so far, but the company expects that to increase to between 25,000-50,000 homes and 275,000-550,000 devices by the end of 2016.

ComScore’s efforts coincide with Nielsen’s drive toward more holistic measurement. The TV measurement giant’s Total Content Ratings initiative aim to create unified measurement of digital and offline content consumption. Next up will be a similar comparability metric for ads.

The top challenges going forward, for both firms, include measuring “co-viewing” in a single household and cross-screen viewing.

Subscription video-on-demand services still require complex workarounds to measure content.

Although Nielsen provides streaming viewership data for 1,000 programs across Netflix, Hulu and Amazon (Note: Nielsen says it can currently measure 6,000 subscription VOD episodes), certain providers like Netflix don’t work directly with Nielsen, so it has to take an ad hoc approach to measuring Netflix streams using audio signature files.

“The gap between accurate measurement and consumer behavior is bigger than ever,” said Linda Yaccarino, chairwoman of advertising sales at NBCUniversal, during a presentation at AdExchanger’s Industry Preview conference.

“We are throwing this challenge out to many of you in the industry who can help extend the measure of TV currency beyond a C3 rating, which is like measuring the size of an iceberg based on only what you see rising out of the water.”

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