This huge merger will change how Hollywood gets streaming numbers

Orange is the new blackJoJo Whilden/Netflix‘Orange Is the New Black.’

As complaints in Hollywood about the lack of transparent streaming data grow, reports have now surfaced of a major merger that could change everything.

Two companies that specialize in the measurement of media consumption, ComScore and Rentrak, have merged, according to Variety, giving studios and networks another option for analytics outside of Nielsen, the largest audience measurement service and the go-to source for studios and leading advertisers for decades.

But in the digital era, Neilsen has come under fire for being out of touch.

The merger combines Rentrak’s bread and butter (measures of video-on-demand, box office, set-top box data) along with ComScore’s (consumer web activity) to create a measurement platform that will show advertisers how audiences consume their entertainment on everything from the big screen and TVs to desktop computers and mobile devices.

Neilsen has been playing catchup in trying to measure audience consumption beyond the TV screen. The company recently began a technology it’s calling “total consumption,” but according to industry sources BI has spoken to, it only generates data specifically for the owner of the show, not competitors. (Nielsen has said that it’s hoping to change that within the next year.)

One option studios and networks have started to explore is using third-party companies that measure murky digital-consumption data. These third parties can also tell studios, albeit roughly, how their shows and competing titles perform on Netflix and Amazon, which don’t publicly release viewing numbers.

But now with this new merger, there’s a much larger tool at hand.

According to Variety, ComScore will measure the behaviour of more than 260 million desktop screens, 160 million mobile phone screens, 95 million tablet screens, 40 million television screens, 120 million video-on-demand screens, and 40,000 movie theatre screens representing well over 100 million moviegovers.

Third-party companies currently generate their data from panels that range from 20,000 people to 30,000. Neilsen’s national television panel includes 40,000 homes and over 100,000 people, according to the company.

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