Rentrak buys Nielsen EDI, consolidating box office reporting business

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In a surprise move that consolidates the two biggest players in box office reporting, Rentrak Corp. has agreed to acquire The Nielsen Company’s EDI division for $15 million in cash.

Publicly traded Rentrak said the deal will expand its ability to collect and provide clients with box office data from around the world. Although Rentrak currently dominates the domestic box office reporting business with its near-real-time ticket sales information, Nielsen EDI is stronger in reporting overseas movie receipts, particularly from major markets such as Spain, the United Kingdom, France, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil and Australia.


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.’

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

Giambra said there are unlikely to be any anti-competitive concerns about the merger of the only two competitors in the industry given the small size of the market. He also said there will 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 awareness of an interest in upcoming movies.

Privately owned Nielsen Co., 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 eight publications, including the Hollywood Reporter and Billboard, to a consortium of investors led by print media mogul James Finkelstein.

--Ben Fritz