The Fox Television Stations Group is set to become the first network-owned station group in decades to dump Nielsen as its ratings service, MediaPost reports. The TV station group's long-term contract with Nielsen expires today.
"While sources say negotiations continued over the weekend, the two companies were characterized as being at loggerheads over some key contractual and methodological issues, and that the Fox stations were considering dropping Nielsen altogether and instead using rival TV ratings service Rentrak exclusively," the story reports.
The report adds: "Earlier this month, Fox became the first network-owned station group to agree to license Rentrak's digital set-top audience ratings for all of its stations. The deal covers 28 Fox-owned stations in 18 local TV markets from New York City to Ocala-Gainesville, Fla."
If the two parties fail to agree on a contract by the end of the day, "it would be the first time since Arbitron operated a competing local TV ratings service that a network-owned stations group agreed to do business exclusively with a ratings provider other than Nielsen," MediaPost notes.
Arbitron exited the local TV ratings game way back in 1993, and today operates as part of Nielsen.
"While Fox would be the highest-profile station group to walk away from Nielsen, others have already done so in selected markets. Two years ago, the Sinclair Broadcast Group went exclusively with Rentrak for ratings in four of its local TV markets," the story reports. "While other major station groups have also signed deals to license Rentrak data — including a recent multi-market agreement by the CBS station group — most of those deals have been more of a hedge to utilize Rentrak's data to augment conventional ratings contracts they have with Nielsen."