Canucks mate ratings orgs

BBM Canada, Nielsen Media Research merge

TORONTO — Two years in the making, BBM Canada and Nielsen Media Research merged their TV audience measurement divisions in September, giving the Great White North a single source of ratings information.

“It’s a big deal for everybody,” says Jim MacLeod, prexy and CEO of BBM Canada. “It’s two cultures being put together; two long-time competitors.”

BBM is a not-for-profit organization, owned and governed by a tripartite of ad agencies, broadcasters and advertisers. Nielsen Media Research is part of VNU, a massive global information and media company. The two have been going head to head since 1955.

“It was a really impractical thing to support,” says Sunni Boot, prexy and CEO of media buying agency ZenithOptimedia in Toronto. “We’re a very small country, 31 million people, with one of the world’s most complex and fragmented broadcast landscapes. We could not afford to adequately measure it with both systems.”

Previously, CTV and Global Television, Canada’s two largest private broadcasters, and pubcaster CBC, could approach media buyers with somewhat different, and sometimes conflicting, information that made ad buying something of an art.

The merger was announced in 2004, but it has taken two years for the companies to resolve a patent infringement dispute, hammer out the details of their joint venture, and attain the nod of Canada’s Competition Bureau. About 45 of a total staff of 175 were laid off at the two companies.

The rollout has been smooth so far. The top 10 looks similar to the top 10 before the changeover, with all three of CTV’s “CSI” programs and “ER,” and Global’s “House,” and the latest “Survivor” in the top 10. Of the new fare, Boot predicts “Shark,” “Justice,” and “Studio 60” will survive and thrive.

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