Comcast finally agrees to sell set-top data to Nielsen

Comcast Xfinity van
AT&T, Dish Network and Charter Communications have also signed deals with Nielsen to provide set-top data.

Comcast has agreed to become the fourth major pay TV operator to deliver anonymous usage information from its pay TV set tops for use in Nielsen’s local TV measurement products. 

Comcast rebuffed a $100 million offer from Nielsen in 2015 to buy set-top data, according to the Wall Street Journal. But AT&T forged a multiyear deal in January to offer information from DirecTV satellite and U-verse IPTV viewers to Nielsen, which is trying to deliver ever-more-granular viewing data to media-business clients. 

Dish Network and Charter Communications have also signed deals with Nielsen to provide set-top data. 

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Starting in 2018, Nielsen said, it will incorporate “anonymized” data from Comcast homes along with set-top box data from other providers and Nielsen's local meters into local TV ratings. The data will be used to report audience viewing trends on an aggregated basis.

"Our enhanced local TV measurement strategy combines the best elements from Nielsen's high-quality panels with set-top box data from Comcast and other providers in an anonymous way," said Megan Clarken, global president of Watch at Nielsen, in a statement. "We are continuously innovating our local measurement solutions and leveraging all data sources to deliver a comprehensive service that offers true local market insights and showcases the power of local television.”

"Comcast is committed to enabling more effective and efficient television measurement for the benefit of the entire industry," added Marcien Jenckes, president of advertising for Comcast Cable. "This agreement with Nielsen underscores the importance of local television measurement and will have a positive impact on the quality of local ratings."