Nielsen Is Buying Tribune Media’s Media Data Unit for $560 Million

December 20, 2016, 1:41 PM UTC
Man watching multiple television screens (Digital Composite)
Photo credit: John Eder/Getty Images

Advertising tracking company Nielsen Holdings said it would buy Tribune Media’s media data unit, Gracenote, for $560 million.

Emeryville, California-based Gracenote is a large provider of television “metadata,” data that helps TV viewers figure out what programs they are watching when they use digital TV guides at home.

Gracenote, which began operations as a CD metadata provider nearly 20 years ago, also provides data to mobile devices that can identify which movies, TV shows or music are being played.

Some of Gracenote’s customers include Apple (AAPL), Tesla Motors (TSLA), Time Warner Cable (TWC), and Amazon (AMZN) .

The sale comes about 10 months after Tribune Media, one of the largest U.S. TV station operators, said it had hired investment banks Moelis & Co and Guggenheim Securities to explore strategic options for the business.

Tribune acquired Gracenote from Sony (SNE) for $170 million in 2014.


Nielsen (NLSN), known for its television ratings that are used to determine ad rates for traditional TV commercials, said Gracenote will be incorporated into its Watch division, which measures what consumers are watching.

The deal, which is expected to close in the first quarter of 2017, will be financed through a combination of cash and debt, Nielsen said.

Nielsen said it expects the acquisition to be neutral to 2017 GAAP earnings and slightly accretive in 2018.

PJT Partners advised Nielsen on the deal and Baker & McKenzie acted as legal advisers. Debevoise & Plimpton was Tribune’s legal adviser.

Tribune also said it would pay a special dividend of about $500 million to its shareholders in the first quarter of 2017.

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