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Market Research Firm to Buy Entertainment Data

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Entertainment Data Inc., Hollywood’s largest box-office research firm, said Thursday that it is being acquired by ACNielsen Corp.

Reports pegged the sale price as high as $26 million, although some Hollywood executives said that number sounded too high. Neither EDI nor ACNielsen would discuss price.

EDI founder and owner Marcy Polier said the alliance would give EDI the resources to expand globally. She said there is a big demand by studios for comprehensive foreign box-office data.

ACNielsen is one of the world’s biggest market research firms. It is separate from Cognizant Corp.'s Nielsen Media Research, which provides the well-known television ratings in the U.S. and Canada.

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ACNielsen does, however, monitor television ratings overseas. ACNielsen and Nielsen Media were sister companies before Dun & Bradstreet spun them off in a 1996 restructuring.

ACNielsen is based in Stamford, Conn., and EDI is based in Beverly Hills.

Polier, who is president of EDI, founded the company in 1976. The company collects data from about 25,000 screens in the U.S. and Canada, which makes up about 85% of the box office. In recent years, the company has opened offices in Britain, France, Germany and Spain.

Polier said she has been approached over the years by various suitors wanting to buy the company, but didn’t feel the time was right to sell until now. She said discussions started with ACNielsen about six months ago.

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Michael P. Conners, vice chairman of ACNielsen, said the company believes EDI would enhance its ties to the consumer products and service companies ACNielsen consults. He said many of the company’s clients are involved in the movie industry, either as suppliers or through corporate tie-ins with movies.

ACNielsen also does extensive home consumer research, with scanners in 52,000 homes with which people agree to scan every item they buy.


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