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Photo by Gary Hershorn/Getty Images

The NBCUniversal Owned Television Stations division has signed a multi-year contract with Comscore to provide measurement for the 40 local broadcast networks owned and operated by NBC and Telemundo.

Why it matters: It's the latest local broadcast deal to close with Comscore amid pressure to explore new types of TV measurement that extends beyond linear TV consumption that has been traditionally measured by Nielsen. Gray, Nexstar and Scripps have all also signed with Comscore in the past few months.

Yes, but: NBCUniversal, the parent company to the NBCUniversal Owned Television Stations division, isn't ditching Nielsen. It uses Nielsen (and Comscore) data to power its measurement suite called CFlight, and it uses Nielsen data to power the digital TV advertising tech it uses through a partnership called Open AP.

The owned and operated stations will use both vendors to paint a better picture of how its content is being consumed.

"Obviously, measurement needs to change. There are so many platforms that our content appears on — satellite, cable, over-the-air, digital — pure linear TV measurement no longer encompasses all of our viewing. This announcement is not anti-Nielsen movement. It’s just another source of measurement."
— Frank Comerford, chief revenue officer and president of commercial operations, NBCUniversal Owned Television Stations

The details: Beginning Tuesday, all NBC and Telemundo-owned stations across the country will use Comscore’s linear TV measurement, as well as its local mobile and insights calculations to measure performance.

  • They'll also use Comscore's automotive, political and consumer targeting segments to measure performance among those sectors to clients.
  • The division has been testing Comscore for several years in some markets, says Comerford.

The big picture: The battle between Nielsen and Comscore has been heating up over the past year to better measure how TV is consumed across a variety of platforms.

  • The public relations battle to come out on top has ramped up, particularly in local markets where automotive and political advertisers, which drive a huge chunk of revenue, are looking for better data.
  • Comscore believes this deal, as well as other local partnerships, will help increase its visibility on the national level.
  • "NBCU owned and operated stations focusing on Comscore locally will also put us in front of a lot of national advertisers; many of them are unfamiliar with using us as a buying currency in the national market," says Comscore CEO Bryan Wiener.

How it works: Advertisers want to be able to target TV ads with the same precision that they can target ads digitally, especially on big platforms like Google and Facebook.

  • Nielsen offers more detailed TV measurement that includes the more details about individuals, but for a smaller sample of people. It uses those measurements to forecast what a larger number of people consume.
  • Comscore uses a much bigger and broader set of household television viewership through set-top box data, but it can't measure which person in a room exactly saw a show.

What they're saying: Advertising executives tell Axios they are relying on both companies at this point to create a full picture of what's actually consumed across TV networks, but new options from Comscore can be helpful for local advertisers especially.

"For local, a wide set of data is particularly important. With the level of granularity that Comscore is offering, which includes a lot more households, you can make better advertising decisions."
— Jonathan Steuer Chief Research Officer Omnicom Media Group
  • Comscore CEO Bryan Wiener tells Axios, "These station groups are saying Comscore ratings are more predictable and stable because sample size is much higher for their cross-platform viewership projections."
  • Nielsen Watch President Megan Clarken told Axios in an interview at the Consumer Electronics Show, "Advertisers know that Comscore isn't a viable alternative. It's there as a point of leverage, but they're not going to move away from us."

NBCUniversal, through Comcast, is an investor in Axios.

Go deeper

Dominion sends cease and desist letter to My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell

Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Dominion Voting Systems on Monday sent a cease and desist letter to My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell over his spread of misinformation related to the 2020 election.

Why it matters: Trump and several of his allies have pushed false conspiracy theories about the company, leading Dominion to take legal action. It's suing pro-Trump lawyer Sydney Powell for defamation and $1.3 billion in damages, and a Dominion employee has sued Trump himself, OANN and Newsmax.

Off the Rails

Episode 5: The secret CIA plan

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer, Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Zach Gibson/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. This Axios series takes you inside the collapse of a president.

Episode 5: Trump vs. Gina — The president becomes increasingly rash and devises a plan to tamper with the nation's intelligence command.

In his final weeks in office, after losing the election to Joe Biden, President Donald Trump embarked on a vengeful exit strategy that included a hasty and ill-thought-out plan to jam up CIA Director Gina Haspel by firing her top deputy and replacing him with a protege of Republican Congressman Devin Nunes.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: CDC director defends agency's response to pandemic — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Empire State Building among hundreds to light up in Biden inauguration coronavirus tribute.
  3. Vaccine: Fauci: 100 million doses in 100 days is "absolutely" doable.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode again.
  5. Tech: Kids' screen time sees a big increase.

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