Big Changes Are Coming to Nielsen Ratings

Nielsen, the company known for tracking television ratings, has a new owner. A group of private equity investors led by Brookfield Business Partners and Evergreen Coast Capital acquired the company for $16 billion. The Nielsen Board of Directors unanimously approved the acquisition proposal, Deadline reported Tuesday.

The proposed deal includes a 45-day "go-shop" period. This grants Nielsen, its advisors, J.P. Morgan and Allen & Co., and the legal team a chance to solicit alternate acquisition proposals. However, Nielsen would have to pay a $102 million termination fee if it finds a better deal.

The deal comes just before TV networks and steamers begin their upfront ad sales season when advertisers buy up spots for the upcoming season. Nielsen previously rejected a $9 billion offer, reports The Associated Press. Nielsen's annual global revenue is about $3.5 billion.

"After a thorough assessment, the board determined that this transaction represents an attractive outcome for our shareholders by providing a cash takeout at a substantial premium while supporting Nielsen's commitment to our clients, employees, and stakeholders," Nielsen board chair James A. Attwood said in a statement.

"Having first invested in Nielsen nearly four years ago, we have a unique appreciation for the Company's ongoing relevance to the global, digital-first media ecosystem," Managing Partner Jesse Cohn and Senior Portfolio Manager Marc Steinberg said in a statement for Evergreen and Elliott Investment Management. "Today's outcome represents a significant win for Nielsen's shareholders and for the business itself."

Nielsen has been under fire in the past few years as it seeks to modernize in an environment where fewer people watch traditional television. Video Advertising Bureau CEO Sean Cunningham, who has been a vocal critic of Nielsen, told Deadline they are "rooting hard" for Nielsen to make changes, including, "deep disclosures and real transparency, commitment to the modernization that sharply increased competition demands, and increased collaboration rather than collision with their clients and customers."

Nielsen was founded by Arthur Nielsen almost 100 years ago to measure sales results. It grew to become a giant in the television rating industry, with its statistics used by advertisers to determine where they spend their money on television spots. Networks have also used Nielsen ratings to determine a show's survival, but that's not the case for many today because television viewing habits have changed. Fewer people are watching television shows live, with most choosing to watch shows on their own time using streaming platforms.