Majors showbiz players work to measure popularity

The major showbiz congloms, a handful of top advertisers and media buying agencies are in talks to create a consortium to develop a more detailed way of tracking the popularity of their content across the media landscape.

The coalition is looking to generate info that enhances the basic TV and online ratings data served up by the Nielsen Co.

The goal is to develop systems that can help the majors measure the popularity of programs and franchises across multiple platforms — e.g., allowing the Walt Disney Co. to better understand the size and scope of the “Lost” aud on TV, DVRs, vidgames, Web streaming, social networks, mobile and other online platforms.

The idea for the consortium is still in the discussion stage, but the tentative plan is that the members would chip in coin and then solicit proposals from market research firms to deliver the enhanced aud metrics the partners seek.

Among those in discussions on the consortium are NBC Universal, Walt Disney Co., Time Warner, News Corp., CBS, Viacom plus blue-chip marketers including AT&T and Procter & Gamble. It’s understood that Alan Wurtzel, NBC U’s prexy of research and media development, has been one of the key champions of the initiative.

Reps for NBC U and the other majors declined comment on the talks, first reported Thursday by the Financial Times.

The initiative has been viewed as a challenger to Nielsen, but insiders close to the situation stress there is no practical way for the partners to develop the massive infrastructure needed to replicate the data that Nielsen delivers through its vast networks of data collection sources.

Nielsen may well be one of the firms that submit a bid for research initiatives sought by the coalition, insiders noted. At the same time, the initiative comes on the heels of frustration at the major congloms over the slowness with which Nielsen is developing technology that allows for a 360-degree view of audience interests in the fast-expanding media landscape. News Corp. execs have been particularly vocal in recent months on their frustration with Nielsen’s services.

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