After reaching $20 in late 2004, the stock price of NetRatings (NASDAQ:NTRT) has been lackluster -- trading in a range of $12 to $15 per share. The company, which measures and analyzes audiences for digital media, now has a buyout offer of $16 from its majority shareholder, VNU. Expecting a stronger bid, investors pushed the stock to $16.91 on the news, but this could be wishful thinking.

NetRatings has a line of measurement products, such as NetView, MegaPanel, SiteCensus, AdRelevance, @Plan, and Homescan Online. The products help with things like analyzing behavior on websites, media players, and even instant messaging. Moreover, NetRatings has been aggressively protecting its intellectual property and has filed patent suits against a variety of competitors, such as WebSideStory (NASDAQ:WSSI).

In the most recent quarter, NetRatings posted a 17% increase in revenues to $19.9 million and had net income of $931,000 or $0.03 per share, which compares to a loss of $2.3 million, or $0.06 per share, in the same period a year ago. In fact, this was the company's first quarter of positive net income.

As for VNU, it's a global information powerhouse and has a variety of private equity owners, such as The Blackstone Group, The Carlyle Group, Hellman & Friedman, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., and Thomas H. Lee Partners.

The company owns Nielsen Media Research, which has a 50+-year history measuring television-viewing behavior. Another holding is ACNielsen, which was founded more than 75 years ago. The company has extensive databases for consumer product ratings.

Since the late 1990s, NetRatings has leveraged the strategic assets of Nielsen Media Research and ACNielsen into the online world. What's more, VNU owns 60.5% of NetRatings and also controls the board.

The market opportunity for NetRatings also looks bright. For example, with the surge in online video -- as seen with Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) $1.65 billion purchase of YouTube -- there will be a need to measure this new medium.

So, given that VNU has strong links with NetRatings, why not buy the rest of the company -- especially since Wall Street has been lukewarm on the stock and the price is attractive? Interestingly enough, VNU has offered to pay a small premium of 10%.

Unfortunately, getting a low bid is always the risk for public companies that are controlled by a parent company. Yes, VNU may bump up the offer a little. But there's little incentive to get aggressive on the price. After all, given VNU's control, why would any other bidder enter the fray?

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Fool contributor Tom Taulli does not own shares mentioned in this article. The Fool has a clickable disclosure policy.