Nielsen Ups The Ante On TV And Audio Data With $560M Bid For Gracenote

nielsenNielsen intends to acquire Gracenote, a Tribune-owned company specializing in audio and video content recognition technology, for $560 million, the company confirmed on Tuesday.

Gracenote will operate under Nielsen’s “Watch” business – the side of the house that measures audiences – and the acquisition is expected to close Q1 2017.

If it goes through, Nielsen will gain more access to TV and audio data.

“Gracenote’s metadata and content recognition technology fuels the interfaces of the major video, music and in-car infotainment systems that consumers engage with every day,” said Karthik Rao, president of expanded verticals at Nielsen, in a statement.

The acquisition echoes Rovi’s $1.1 billion acquisition of TiVo in April.

Rovi combines its metadata on TV searches with TiVo’s set-top box viewing insights to improve content recommendations, discovery and ad targeting.

Nielsen claims Gracenote’s metadata will help marketers target customers and optimize campaigns in real time and that media clients will be able to distribute more relevant content to specific consumer subsets. 

Gracenote, which initially supplied TV and movie listings to smart TV providers, later licensed its recommendation engine to media owners, who used it to suggest movies, genres or playlists to consumers.

After Tribune bought it from Sony for $170 million, one of Gracenote’s main focuses was supplying program viewership info to broadcasters.

In 2013, Gracenote started deepening its ad decisioning capabilities, allowing broadcasters to perform ad replacement or to swap in addressable ads to smart TV users based on demographic and viewership data.

Nielsen’s intent to acquire Gracenote comes just a week after NBC’s ad sales chief, Linda Yaccarino, sent a memo to Nielsen execs, saying Nielsen relies too much on panel-based measurements for digital and on-demand environments.

Yaccarino also argued that major pay TV and digital video providers aren’t in Nielsen’s measurement mix.

“The whole industry eagerly awaits total audience data … TCR [Total Content Ratings] is far from meeting these requirements,” Yaccarino wrote.

Gracenote at least strengthens Nielsen’s position around cross-screen viewing data.

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