Nielsen, AT&T reach multiyear viewership data deal

AT&T’s TV data from 210 local TV markets will be incorporated with data from other providers within Nielsen products.

Nielsen today scored a multiyear agreement with AT&T for access to set-top box data from AT&T's DirecTV and U-Verse subscribers in Nielsen's local and national TV currency ratings services.

Nielsen said it will combine panel data with anonymous TV viewing data from connected homes subscribed to DirecTV and U-Verse and report the data on an aggregated basis. AT&T’s TV data from 210 local TV markets will be incorporated with data from other providers within Nielsen products, including Scarborough, NLTV and Nielsen N-Score.

“Combining Nielsen's high-quality panels with anonymized set-top box data from AT&T's DirecTV and U-Verse homes is at the center of our TV measurement strategy to enhance how TV viewing is measured. Nielsen is leveraging big data and its panel data to deliver comprehensive, reliable and in-depth measurement of how people consume content in today's changing media landscape," Megan Clarken, president of Nielsen Product Leadership, said in a statement. "We continue to innovate and leverage all types of data in order to enhance our local and eventually national audience measurement solutions. The inclusion of data from various providers supplements Nielsen's panel data by providing increased granularity and more robust insights broadening our total audience view.”

RELATED: Nielsen changing Total Audience Measurement product after pressure from NBCU, Fox

The deal with AT&T arrives as a bit of good news for Nielsen amid several troubles recently for the TV ratings firm.

Nielsen recently confirmed that it had made changes to some aspects of its Total Audience Measurement suite of products, though it denied that those changes had been made due to pressure from broadcasters including NBCUniversal and Fox.

Late last year, Linda Yaccarino, chairman of advertising sales at NBCUniversal, wrote to Nielsen regarding “deep concerns” over what she called an “incomplete and inconsistent” product.

That pushback came shortly after ESPN called out Nielsen for a report suggesting that the sports network had lost 621,000 subscribers in October.

“The Nielsen numbers represent a dramatic, unexplainable variation over prior months’ reporting, affecting all cable networks,” ESPN said in a statement. “We have raised this issue with Nielsen in light of their demonstrated failures over the years to accurately provide subscriber data. The data does not track our internal analysis nor does it take into account new DMVPD (virtual MVPD platforms like Sling TV) entrants into the market.”

Nielsen initially pulled back the report but eventually reaffirmed the numbers.