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Nielsen strikes deal to buy Arbitron

December 18, 2012|By Joe Flint

The business of measuring ratings just got smaller.

Nielsen, which has measured television ratings for decades, has acquired radio ratings giant Aribitron in a deal worth $1.26 billion, the company announced early Tuesday morning.

The deal will put ratings measurement for the two most popular mediums in the country in the hands of one company. Nielsen also measures digital platforms.

Nielsen said it will acquire all outstanding common stock of Arbitron for $48 per share in cash, a premium of 26% to Arbitron's Dec. 17 stock close.

"U.S. consumers spend almost 2 hours a day with radio. It is and will continue to be a vibrant and important advertising medium," Nielsen Chief Executive Officer David Calhoun said in a statement. "Arbitron will help Nielsen better solve for unmeasured areas of media consumption, including streaming audio and out-of-home."

Arbitron President William T. Kerr said in a statement: "By combining Nielsen's global capabilities and scale with Arbitron's unique radio measurement and listening information, advertisers and media clients will have better insights into consumer behavior and the return on marketing investments.

"The high level of engagement with radio and TV among rapidly growing multicultural audiences makes this central to Nielsen’s priorities."

The TV industry has always had a complex relationship with Nielsen. Broadcasters and cable networks often grumble that the ratings giant is not moving fast enough to monitor new platforms and that its sample on traditional media is too small to be as accurate as possible. Many broadcasters also own radio stations, and it remains to be seen how happy they will be that audience measurement for both mediums will be done by the same company.

The deal will face regulatory approval and an antitrust review.

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Follow Joe Flint on Twitter @JBFlint.

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