Sinclair decides to stick with Nielsen TV ratings after all

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The renewal is surprising since Sinclair not long ago seemed to confirmed that it was ditching its deal with Nielsen and signing with comScore instead. (flash.pro/Flickr)

Sinclair Broadcast and Nielsen have reached a new multiyear renewal agreement for Nielsen TV ratings that covers Sinclair's local stations, digital broadcast networks and national “unwired” network.

"Sinclair's content plays a critical role for the communities in which it serves," said Megan Clarken, president of Nielsen Watch, in a statement. "We're delighted to continue our relationship with Sinclair and to support the countless growth opportunities involved in the deployment of ATSC 3.0."

"We're pleased to have reached a mutually beneficial agreement with Nielsen," said Steve Marks, executive vice president and COO of Sinclair, in a statement. "We are happy to continue our long-standing relationship, and look forward to Nielsen's investments in Local broadcasting, as well as its future support of ATSC 3.0."

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RELATED: Sinclair, Nexstar team up with American Tower for ATSC 3.0 SFN sites in Dallas

Among the many new technologies and features ATSC 3.0 has the promise of delivering for broadcasters, the ability to target advertising based on viewership data has been high on the list in terms of revenue growth potential. With that technology on the horizon, it’s somewhat surprising that Sinclair has decided to renew its deal with Nielsen, a traditional ratings company using audience segments.

“If we weren’t stuck with Nielsen and their reading of the tea leaves, we’d have tens of millions of extra dollars in our pocket,” said Mark Aitken, vice president of advanced technology for Sinclair Broadcast Group, in a 2016 interview with FierceVideo.

The renewal is also surprising since Sinclair not long ago seemed to confirmed that it was ditching its deal with Nielsen and signing with comScore instead.

The agreement arrives as Sinclair has been ramping up its activities around ATSC 3.0 next-gen TV standards following the FCC’s authorization and ATSC’s final approval of the standards.

In January, Sinclair partnered with Nexstar Media, Univision and American Tower to build and operate Single Frequency Network (SFN) sites with ATSC 3.0 signals within the Dallas Designated Market Area (DMA) in order to test improved over-the-air reception, immersive audio, deeper indoor reception, mobile reception, zoned programming/advertising, automotive services and advanced emergency alerting.

Also last month, the company announced a partnership with Imagine Communications to build an ATSC 3.0 advertising management software platform and a separate agreement with SK Telecom to co-develop an ATSC 3.0 next-generation TV platform, which they intend to build in the first half of 2018.