Pay-TV metadata vendor Gracenote reportedly about to be sold to Nielsen for $500M

Comcast and Charter-owned TWC use Gracenote’s data in their TV program guides.

Gracenote, a leading metadata vendor to companies including Comcast and Charter Communications, is about to be sold to Nielsen for as much as $500 million, Variety reports.

Tribune Media has been shopping Gracenote to private equity shops and other potential suitors since February. Neither Tribune or Nielsen has officially commented. 

Emeryville, California-based Gracenote started as a provider of compact-disc metadata 18 years ago, but has branched out into other media sectors—Comcast and Charter-owned TWC use Gracenote’s data in their respective TV program guides, for example. 

According to Variety, Nielsen is primarily interested in Gracenote’s automatic content recognition technology, which has been embedded into the TVs of major consumer electronics makers. This technology allows Gracenote to match metadata with what’s playing on a user’s screen.

Nielsen, however, would like to create a bigger, more accurate way to measure what consumers are watching across linear and OTT platforms. 

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Tribune bought Gracenote from Sony for $170 million in 2013 and combined it with its own TMS subsidiary, which sold TV guide data to pay-TV operators. Since then, Tribune added to the asset by paying $50 million for Baseline in 2014 and $54 million for sports data company SportsDirect in 2015.

With Gracenote losing money, however, Tribune has been looking to sell the operation. A price of around $700 million was reportedly bantered about, but the deal lost steam when rival Rovi Corp. paid $1.1 billion to acquire TiVo.