Nielsen to buy radio ratings firm Arbitron for $1.26 billion

NEW YORK, Tue Dec 18, 2012 — Nielsen Holdings NV, known for its television viewership ratings, agreed to pay $1.26 billion to acquire its radio counterpart, Arbitron Inc.

The $48-per-share purchase price represents a 26 percent premium to Arbitron’s Monday closing price on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares were trading just below the offer price in premarket trading Tuesday when the deal was announced.

Ratings — Nielsen’s in TV and Arbitron’s in radio — determine how much advertisers are charged to run commercials during TV programs and radio listening hours. The higher the rating — the more people watching or listening — the more expensive the commercial spot.

“It’s a huge deal for Nielsen,” said Edward Atorino, an analyst with Benchmark Co. “It adds radio, which is a huge market.”

Nielsen said that with Arbitron it plans to expand its “Watch” measurement that keeps tabs on consumer viewing and listening habits across multiple screens such as TV, computers and mobile devices.