Nielsen is busy trimming down operations in what looks like preparation for a long-awaited IPO. And it's all in vain.
This week, Nielsen sold most of its publishing operations to a private investor group and shut down the rest, a move that highlights how important the company's core competency of audience measurement really is. Unfortunately, it's also a dying business model.
You probably know Nielsen as "the TV ratings people," though the company also tracks data like Web traffic and music sales. It's been a pretty sweet gig for decades as media companies like Walt Disney
Nielsen's only competition used to be Arbitron
But times are changing, and fast. With the rise of digital cable boxes, Nielsen's data collection is becoming obsolete. When Google
If you ran ABC, as Disney does, why would you pay Nielsen for market reports that you could just as easily get from TiVo, or even directly from broadcasters like Comcast
TiVo could become the de facto measurement standard sooner than you think. That's just one more reason to love TiVo -- and stay on the sidelines if Nielsen goes public.
Fool contributor Anders Bylund owns shares in Disney and Google, but he holds no other position in any of the companies discussed here. He worked for Nielsen for two years and loves the people there, but can't bring himself to believe in the business anymore. Sorry, guys. Google is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers pick. Walt Disney is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation and an Inside Value recommendation. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days. You can check out Anders' holdings and a concise bio if you like, and The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.