Billboard parent company Valence Media is acquiring the Nielsen Music insights and product suite that fuel its charts data, it was announced Wednesday (Dec. 18). The purchase reunites Billboard with the leading music consumption analytics platform after a decade-long separation.
Nielsen Music — formerly Nielsen SoundScan — was created in 1991 by Mike Fine and Mike Shalett and has provided the Billboard charts with consumption insights on sales, downloads and streams since then, fueling the Billboard Hot 100, Billboard 200, Billboard Artist 100 and many other top genre and airplay tallies. Billboard and Nielsen were under the same ownership from 1999-2009, the Dutch media conglomerate Verenigde Nederlandse Uitgeverijen. (VNU acquired Billboard in 1994 and Nielsen in 1999.) In 2007 VNU changed its name to Nielsen and two years later sold Billboard to e5 Global Media Holdings, which became Prometheus Global Media under Guggenheim Digital Media. Billboard has operated under Valence Media since 2018.
Financial terms of the deal between Valence Media and Nielsen were not disclosed.
With the new acquisition, Valence — which operates dick clark productions, Billboard-The Hollywood Reporter Media Group, MRC Film, MRC Television and MRC Non-Fiction — has established a new MRC Data division that will be led by current Billboard-The Hollywood Reporter Media Group president Deanna Brown.
“By bringing Nielsen Music Products and Billboard back together, we’re answering the request from the music industry for a more coordinated, powerful, agile and global suite of independent measurement products,” said Brown in a statement. “The new MRC Data division will leverage our scale and global, multimedia perspective to operate as a true accelerant for our music business colleagues and stakeholders.”
Under this new arrangement, MRC promises to continue improving upon Nielsen Music’s consumption data by leveraging relationships with digital streaming providers, investing in technological upgrades and reevaluating proprietary methodologies.
The Nielsen Music products included in the deal are the Music Connect analytics platform and API that provides music streaming, airplay and sales data for artists, albums and songs; Broadcast Data Systems that offers streaming, sales and airplay data at national and local market levels in the U.S. and Canada; and Music 360 music research and insights reports, which offer consumer trends impacting the industry.
“Nielsen Music and Billboard have long partnered to offer a complete picture of music performance and artist activity for the largest, and most important, music markets in the world,” added Nielsen Global Media chief product and technology officer Karthik Rao. “We’re confident MRC Data will lead the next wave of growth in a business that is evolving faster than Drake drops hits.”
The new MRC Data division will create new and scaled opportunities across Valence Media’s global music portfolio, which includes Billboard and dick clark productions. dcp music shows include the Academy of Country Music Awards, the Billboard Music Awards, the American Music Awards and Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve With Ryan Seacrest.
Even though Billboard and Nielsen Music will now be owned by the same company, Valence pledges to operate with clear separation between the data and editorial teams and continue to follow best practices and security standards to ensure clients’ data integrity.
Earlier this year Billboard announced plans to launch the Global 100, the first authoritative chart ranking the world’s top songs. Powered by a Nielsen platform with expanded global measurement tools, covering activity in more than 180 territories around the world, the Global 100 is scheduled to launch in 2020 and will deliver worldwide streaming and digital sales numbers from top digital streaming providers for a holistic view of the top songs and artists across the globe.