NBCUniversal Jan. 13 revealed it has partnered with iSpot.tv in an effort to better measure the impact of advertising on both its linear (NBC, MSNBC, CNBC) and online (Peacock) platforms.
The move comes after the Comcast-owned parent of Universal Studios sent out a public request seeking media measurement alternatives to longtime ratings bulwark Nielsen. Specifically, NBCUniversal is seeking intel how ads are consumed across the various distribution channels.
The media giant has worked with iSpot since 2014, but only now named the company a “certified measurement partner” as it aims to better quantify and qualify viewership data.
With more pay-TV viewers shifting to streaming video, the market has pushed toward a greater ad-supported VOD presence as well as the emergence of the free ad-supported stream television (FAST) distribution concept. At the same time, Nielsen, the longtime TV ratings metric, found its analysis under fire, with critics contending the company under-reported viewership in the digital age of TV consumption.
Indeed, the Media Rating Council last year pulled its accreditation for Nielsen’s national and local TV ratings. Nielsen has acknowledged its shortcomings and revamped its ratings businesses.
The situation has prompted a flurry of third-party data firms trying to fill the void with proprietary data. Netflix, whose programming typically dominates most ratings metrics, has begun offering its own weekly tracking of most-streamed movies and TV shows in English and foreign languages.
NBCUniversal is especially interested to analyze data with Super Bowl LVI and 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics set to begin next month, and the company making the entire Winter Games for first time available on the Peacock streaming platform.
In a statement to The Wall Street Journal, Kelly Abcarian, EVP of measurement and impact at NBCUniversal, said the iSpot deal would afford NBCUniversal more precise data on viewership in a more timely manner.
“We think [putting] linear on that same playing field [as digital] is pretty critical, especially when you think about … an event like the Olympics where you’ve got 17 days to make decisions against billions of dollars,” Abcarian wrote.