TV Measurement Titans Compete to Paint More Complete Audience Picture

03.31.2016 David Gustafson

TV Measurement Titans Compete to Paint More Complete Audience Picture


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Monday night at Houston’s NRG Stadium, the curtain will close on the final act of this year’s NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship, better known by its trademarked moniker, “March Madness.”  After 66 games in three weeks, the field of 68 is down to two title contenders.  

Villanova, the 2 seed in the South Region demolished Oklahoma 95-51 in Saturday’s first Final Four match-up to advance to Monday night’s National Championship game.  Waiting for the Wildcats will be the Tar Heels of North Carolina.  The top seed in the East Region, UNC put an end to Syracuse’s surprising run with an 83-66 win in Saturday’s second semifinal.   

So, come Monday night, who will emerge as the big winner?

To paraphrase ESPN’s “Mike & Mike,” the answer to that question is a Stone Cold Lead Pipe Lock.  Viewers from Philadelphia, Chapel Hill, and Every Town USA will be the ultimate winners, with options to catch the final game live on TBS (plus alternate team-specific coverage on TNT and TruTV) or streaming on a computer, tablet or smartphone via the NCAA’s March Madness Live app. 




While finding a way to watch the game will be easy, the task of tallying the total viewing audience across those multiple platforms and devices can be as maddening as watching a Cinderella team hit the buzzer-beater that sends your bracket down the tubes.  “The new math of TV ratings and audience measurement has never been more complicated,” according to Fast Company.  As a result, solving the cross-platform viewership puzzle has emerged as the ultimate prize in a marquee match-up between TV ratings companies Nielsen and comScore, which merged with Rentrak earlier this year.  To help breakdown this battle, here’s the tale of the tape for the two teams:



Because this measurement showdown will focus primarily on national network-level reporting for the foreseeable future, near-term benefits for local advertisers are expected to be indirect, at best – i.e., directional data that may influence decision-making to a limited degree, but no new local currency to fuel advertising transactions.  Still, the prospect of having a more complete picture of the viewing audience, even at a national level, should ultimately prove beneficial for local buyers and sellers alike.

From the Cox Media perspective, we continue to support measurement advancements that help provide a more comprehensive view of the continually evolving video landscape – and, to that end, we continue to maintain our partnerships with both Nielsen and comScore.


How can your business reach these viewers? Learn more about engaged sports audiences here.











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About the Author

David Gustafson

As Cox Media’s Director of Audience Research, David drives positive outcomes for marketers by applying a unique blend of data-informed analysis, industry expertise, and storytelling skills that have earned him a tenured role as the company’s “Professor.” Specializing in audience measurement and market intelligence, David is a member of the Ampersand Cross-MVPD Research Committee, Nielsen Local Policy Guidelines Committee (PGC) and VAB Measurement Innovation Task Force, as well as client advisor to Comscore.

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