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Warner Bros. Discovery signs deal with startup rival Nielsen VideoAmp

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Warner Bros. Discovery signed an agreement with VideoAmp to measure its audience as an alternative data medium for advertisers, the companies announced on Tuesday.

The deal is a significant moment for VideoAmp, a start-up advertising measurement platform that recently added to its client list ahead of this year’s spring advances, as TV networks look to secure long-term commitments from advertisers. Warner Bros. Discovery owns traditional TV networks and streaming services.

The deal also gives Warner Bros. Discovery another set of data to provide advertisers at a time when the industry is considering alternatives to former measurement company Nielsen, which was put under the microscope during the Covid pandemic when questions arose about its measurement panels. Warner will use Nielsen and VideoAmp.

Companies like Nielsen and VideoAmp offer ratings and data that TV networks and streamers use to sell slots for commercials. Nielsen’s measurement system is based on a panel of approximately 40,000 households that allow you to track what you watch. VideoAmp bases its data on device login information. Other competitors in the space include Comscore, as well as startups like and Samba TV.

VideoAmp did not provide the length of its contract with Warner, but founder and CEO Ross McCray told CNBC that his deals with the media giant and others are long-term. VideoAmp also works with disneywhich recently launched the ad-supported platform for Disney+ as well as TelevisaUnivision.

“Especially with Warner’s investment in streaming and a portfolio of so many channels, WBD has a lot of opportunity,” said McCray. “We’ll let you package it as cross-platform” for advertisers.

The merger between Discovery and Warner Media was completed in 2022, accumulating a portfolio of TV networks including Discovery Channel, TLC, TNT, TBS and others. The merged company plans to launch a revamped streaming platform in the spring, combining its Discovery+ with Warner’s HBO Max.

The company is also in the midst of cost-cutting as it faces a heavy debt load stemming from the merger. While WBD is still using Nielsen’s metering services, the VideoAmp deal offers another set of data and the possibility of a more cost-effective autonomous alternative for the future.

“Traditional media measurement has not kept pace with how consumers are engaging with streaming and linear content. As a result, these audiences have been underestimated and current measures no longer accurately reflect their true advertising value,” said Andrea Zapata, head of Warner ad sales. research, measurement and insights, in a press release.

Nielsen’s lock in TV viewership and ratings has been going on for decades. However, Nielsen’s metrics were scrutinized with concern at the start of the pandemic regarding inaccuracies and irregularities in its measurements, according to media reports.

Nielsen disclosed undercounting issues in 2020 and has since lost its accreditation with the Media Rating Council, the industry body that verifies the measurement process. Nielsen’s status with the MRC remains suspended, according to recent reports. VideoAmp, founded in 2014, also lacks MRC accreditation.

Despite these issues, Nielsen remains the measurement giant in the room, working with all the major media companies. Streamers also work with Nielsen. amazonNielsen’s Prime TV uses Nielsen for its “Thursday Night Football” ratings. When Netflix launched its ad-supported tier last year, said its programming would be ranked by Nielsen, starting in 2023.

This is a pivotal time for the media industry as cord-cutting has accelerated recently and media companies look to make streaming profitable. Streaming services added cost-effective and ad-supported options as subscriber growth slowed in 2022.

While there is an estimated $60 billion to $70 billion spent annually on linear TV advertising in the US, according to Insider Intelligence, streaming ad revenue is steadily growing. Ad revenue for streaming services is expected to exceed $21 billion in 2023, up from nearly $17 billion in 2022, according to Insider Intelligence.

“We expect significant changes because the demand is there,” VideoAmp’s McCray said of the measurement industry.