Negotiations came down to the wire between Fox Television Stations and the TV ratings service Nielsen, but Joe Mandese reports in MediaPost that an 11th-hour agreement was reached Monday to renew the long-term contract between the two companies.
The Fox-owned station group had threatened to bolt from Nielsen, as we reported Monday.
"The deal, which was announced at the close-of-business on the East Coast Monday, just as Fox's previous contract was set to expire, averted what would have been one of the biggest defections of a major TV stations group in recent history from Nielsen," Mandese reports. "Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Fox was said to be pressing Nielsen hard on two major points in its contract renewal: the financial terms of the deal, as well as its methodological concerns over the current and future state of local TV audience measurement."
The companies released a joint statement attributed to Fox Television Stations CEO Jack Abernethy and Nielsen President, U.S. Media, Lynda Clarizio. In it they said: “Nielsen and Fox Television Stations Inc. have come to a mutually beneficial resolution to continue their longstanding relationship. Both companies are committed to more meaningful and accurate measurement in local markets. We look forward to a strong and productive relationship going forward.”
The report cites executives with knowledge of the negotiations, who said the talks became "terse," with the Fox stations preparing to scrap their arrangement with Nielsen and move exclusively to rival ratings service Rentrak.
Rentrak "draws its local TV audience estimates from digital set-top viewing data," Mandese notes.
The report adds: "While a number of major TV station groups have begun licensing Rentrak’s ratings, including Fox, none except the Sinclair Broadcast Group ever pulled out of Nielsen. According to a Nielsen spokesman, Sinclair did pull its business in 2012, but entered a new contract with Nielsen three months later. According to a Rentrak spokesman, Sinclair remains a Rentrak client as well."