NBC Research Boss Endorses 3 Nielsen Ratings Alternatives

TCA 2016: Leading audience-measurement company should be looking over its shoulder at these competitors

Alan Wurtzel

You better step your game up, Nielsen — because other TV ratings options are gunning for your gig.

NBC Research President Alan Wurtzel endorsed three alternatives to Nielsen on Wednesday, as the industry’s leading audience-measurement company has been considered antiquated and slow to adapt for quite a while — but has remained the top dog thanks to no real competition.

Wurtzel told critics and reporters in attendance to pay attention to the following options: Symphony Advanced Media, TiVo/Reality Mine and Rentrak/ComScore.

Wurtzel praised the first two Nielsen alternatives for providing true cross-platform measurement and requiring no third party intermediary. Symphony, which uses audio recognition via a consumer’s cell phone microphone, specifically is “generating industry interest,” he said.

Wurtzel later used data from that first company to downplay Netflix tune-in versus that of traditional TV. Currently delivering numbers in a beta, Symphony is imperfect — but then again, so is Nielsen.

The executive’s second option, the TiVo partnership with Reality Mine, is actually being used by NBC for its upcoming Rio Summer Olympics. So, Wurtzel’s company is a bit in bed with those guys already. Expect big numbers this summer from the Brazilian games, whether the figures come from Nielsen or TiVo/Reality Mine.

Rentrak and ComScore still actually have to close their deal — a finalization of terms expected this month — but when that happens, the two companies will instantly become powerful players as one in the ratings world. That is, once they get their act — and data — together.

For now, industry currency is still Nielsen. While it should maybe be shaking a little in metaphorical company boots, Nielsen’s CEO Mitch Barns was publicly unimpressed during this fall’s merger announcement between competitors Rentrak and ComScore.

“They started dating, they decided to get married — so, good for them,” he had said in October.