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Nielsen buys Arbitron for $1.26B; to rate radio

Nielsen, the dominant source of TV ratings, on

Nielsen, the dominant source of TV ratings, on Tuesday said it had agreed to buy Arbitron for about $1.26 billion to expand into radio measurement in the United States and around the world. Photo Credit: AP, 2002

Nielsen, the dominant source of TV ratings, on Tuesday said it had agreed to buy Arbitron for about $1.26 billion to expand into radio measurement.

Arbitron pays 70,000 people to carry around gadgets that register what stations they're listening to. Since Nielsen also collects cash register data, chief executive David Calhoun said buying Arbitron will let Nielsen be a one-stop shop for advertisers who want to know how the radio advertising they buy affects product sales.

The acquisition will let Nielsen expand the amount of media consumption it tracks from about 2 hours per person per day to 7 hours, Calhoun said in an interview.

"You don't find many mediums that allow for that kind of increase," Calhoun said.

Arbitron's operations are mainly in the United States, while Nielsen operates globally. Calhoun said another major driver for the deal is that Nielsen wants to spread Arbitron's tracking technology to other countries.

Evercore Partners analyst Douglas Arthur said Nielsen doesn't need traditional radio measurement to grow, but Arbitron seemed like a willing seller, and it will be a "nice complementary but not 'must have' platform."

Nielsen Holdings said it will pay $48 per share, which is a 26 percent premium to Arbitron's Monday closing price of $38.04. Shares of Arbitron, which is based in Columbia, Md., jumped $8.99 to close Tuesday at $47.03.

Nielsen, which went public in January 2011, has headquarters in the Netherlands and New York. Its stock added $1.30 to $30.92.

Nielsen said it expects the deal to add about 13 cents per share to its adjusted earnings a year after closing and about 19 cents per share to adjusted earnings two years after closing.

Arbitron chief operating officer Sean Creamer is set to take over as chief executive from William Kerr on Jan. 1. Calhoun said he hoped Creamer would remain with Nielsen after the deal closes.

Nielsen said it has a financing commitment for the transaction.

On Monday, Nielsen announced a deal with Twitter to measure how much U.S. TV watchers tweet about the shows they're watching. The Nielsen Twitter TV Rating will debut in the fall.

Nielsen was the prime source of audience ratings in the early days of radio, thanks to a device similar to Arbitron's People Meter. The Audimeter was attached to the radio set. The company's focus shifted to TV measurement in the 1950s.

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