Countering comScore and Rentrak, TiVo to give away set-top demographic ratings data for free

TiVo says it will offer up for free the demographic ratings data gathered on more than 2 million set-top boxes starting in the first quarter of 2016.

The company announced the move on its The overture, the company said, is to "celebrate" the recently proposed merger of research companies comScore and Rentrak.

"We don't think anyone should have to pay for the most basic data we provide -- demographic TV ratings," TiVo said in its posting. "We're much more interested in helping you improve your business and overcome the real challenges you face in a way that other sources of ratings data never will. We do this with anonymized individual household-level viewing data from more than two million homes, directly matched to online exposure and purchase data."

TiVo's announcement comes as Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) and other major pay-TV operators are getting set to debut their own addressable advertising offerings based on set-top data. Cablevision (NYSE: CVC) is already working with programmers including ESPN to offering advertising clients greater addressability.

Amid competition from digital platforms, networks and advertisers are looking for more targeted methodologies for reaching audiences than the limited sampling of traditional Nielsen measurement. According to the Wall Street Journal, Nielsen recently offered to pay Comcast $100 million to the exclusive rights to its set-top data. 

TiVo's decision to give this data away, however, is a head-scratcher. 

TiVo has yet to respond to FierceCable's inquiry to further explain the rationale behind this move.

TiVo touts nearly 6 million subscribers to its DVR service and video user interface, but the vast majority of those are through partnerships with smaller and mid-sized MSOs. 

"I'm guessing that it's to establish their value and to actually get advertisers or to get advertisers promoting them to the MVPDs," said Alan Wolk, senior analyst for The Diffusion Group, of TiVo's announcement.

For more:
- read this TiVo Research posting
- read this story from The Drum
read this Light Reading story

Related articles:
Comcast reportedly in talks to sell set-top data
Cablevision confirms addressable advertising deal with Disney/ESPN
Cablevision rolls out addressable advertising platform
Comscore, Rentrak merge to create massive digital challenger to Nielsen