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Rentrak Expands Pact With ABC, Adding Heft To Possible Ratings Alternative

Rentrak, a measurement company that aims to marry demographic information with consumer-purchase behavior in an effort to provide an alternative to traditional TV ratings, said it had extended a deal with ABC that will add more of the Walt Disney company’s owned stations to its client mix.  After doing deals with Fox, CBS and  NBC, Rentrak currently serves 64% of the nation’s network-owned TV stations.

The new deal will add ABC-owned stations in San Francisco (KGO), Houston (KTRK) and Fresno (KFSN) to the base already being served by Rentrak. ABC and Rentrak had previously signed an agreement in 2012.

“We believe in providing our advertisers and agencies with the most accurate level of measurement. Partnering with Rentrak not only provides for greater transparency around our audiences, but also encourages greater competition in the marketplace and better measurement tools at the local level,” said Rebecca Campbell, president of the ABC Owned Television Stations Group, in a prepared statement.  “We have confidence that Rentrak’s larger sample sizes, along with its automotive and political data, provide us with the information we need.”

Rentrak’s ability to add more stations and networks to its customer base in recent months has raised eyebrows and has been taken as a signal that media companies are frustrated with the pace of progress made by the go-to provider of TV-audience measurement – Nielsen – as they seek measurement capabilities in specific regions that will encompass not only demographic information, but also data about purchase habits made within particular geographic locales.

To be sure, Nielsen has remained competitive on the local front, and last week unveiled details of an expansion of its local-measurement audience panel. Even so, Rentrak’s ability to sign deals with a bevy of station owners in recent months suggests the desire for more data to offer advertisers is fervent, particularly as local stations face more competition from digital rivals who are often armed with more precise data about consumer habits and demographics.

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