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Rentrak agrees to buy Nielsen EDI for $15 million

The deal consolidates the two major players in box-office reporting.

December 16, 2009|By Ben Fritz

In a surprise move that consolidates the two major players in box-office reporting, Rentrak Corp. has agreed to acquire Nielsen Co.'s EDI division for $15 million in cash.

The deal, which is expected to close early next year, will eliminate all competition for Rentrak in selling worldwide box-office information to studios and other industry analysts.

"We are now the sole provider," said Ron Giambra, executive vice president of theatrical worldwide for Rentrak. "That was the reason for this purchase."

Although Rentrak dominates the domestic box-office reporting business, Nielsen EDI is stronger in reporting overseas movie receipts, particularly from major markets such as Spain, Britain, France, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil and Australia. Rentrak's international strengths are in several smaller markets, most notably India and Russia.

Nielsen EDI will be integrated into Rentrak's Box Office Essentials business, an online database that clients such as studios use to access real-time ticket sales information.

Rentrak also collects data on DVD sales, video on demand and Internet video viewing.

Giambra said there were unlikely to be any anti-competitive concerns about the merger of the only two companies in the box-office data industry given the small size of the market. He also said there would be relatively few layoffs, though the exact number has yet to be determined.

As part of the deal, Rentrak signed a long-term data-licensing agreement with Nielsen to provide the company with box-office information it can use for other parts of its business, most notably its IAG unit, which researches the effectiveness of marketing, and its NRG unit, which tracks audience interest in upcoming movies.

Privately owned Nielsen, best known for its television ratings research, has been divesting itself of a number of media assets recently. Last week it struck a deal to sell seven trade publications, including the Hollywood Reporter and Billboard, to a consortium of investors led by print media mogul James Finkelstein.

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