TV and Cable Networks Prep Cross-Platform Competitor to Nielsen

Details are still emerging about a TV industry plan to launch a cross-platform measurement competitor to Nielsen. The service will be launched jointly by a consortium of broadcast and cable network owners that includes NBC Universal, News Corp, Viacom, CBS, Time Warner, Discovery and Walt Disney.

The offering will track programs and ads as they’re viewed across TV, Web sites and mobile devices. Nielsen has a converged TV and Internet panel, but it has fewer than 3,000 members and is considered in its very early phase. The networks may want to move faster than that.

Financial Times first reported on the consortium’s existence last week. Under the plan, it said, the networks will award contracts to companies that measure set-top box data and other digital sources. It was not clear what the structure of the new offering would be — whether a joint venture between six-plus companies, a startup with their tacit support, or something else. According to New York Times sources, NBC is the main force behind the initiative.

Major advertisers like Procter & Gamble and AT&T, and agencies such as WPP-owned GroupM and Starcom MediaVest are also attached to the project.

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