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Big media corporations and top advertisers are getting together to collectively push the fast forward button on digital measurement, potentially challenging Nielsen's dominance of in the media industry.


According to an article in the Financial Times, the top media companies-including NBC Universal, Time Warner, News Corp., Viacom, CBS Corp., Discovery and Walt Disney Co.-are working with advertisers to institute a new ratings system that would work across TV and online. Among the advertisers backing the plan are Procter & Gamble, AT&T and Unilever. Agencies GroupM and Starcom MediaVest Group are also involved.


The issue at hand is how to measure viewers who watch TV shows online. Nielsen measures online viewing as part of its three screens initiative, but it isn't incorporated into the main sample.
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The FT's article reports that a new system might be in place as early as fourth quarter. That is stunning news and illustrates big media's sense of fear that they might be losing out as online viewing grows.


At the TCA press tour this month, CBS research chief David Poltrack delivered a presentation that declared online viewing was reaching critical mass. With Discovery's entrance to Comcast's OnDemand Online authentication trial, it's clear the major players are vested in building a real infrastructure behind online viewing. Hulu is also said to be developing its own authentication system, which would identify paying customers as it explores the possibility of offering subscription services.
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