Nielsen, NBC/U Unveil Seven-Year Hitch

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NBC Universal has signed on the dotted line for an unprecedented 7-year deal with Nielsen for ratings covering all its TV businesses.

Nielsen has similar packages of deals covering the other networks, but this is the first group deal of this size for the ratings company, a trend it would like to continue when its other contracts come up for renewal.

The new contract includes the NBC network, the 13 owned TV stations, the Telemundo Hispanic network and its 11 owned stations, cable networks Bravo, CNBC, Sci-Fi, USA, and MSNBC, and NBC/Enterprises/NBC Universal Domestic Television (which uses syndicated ratings for shows including Fear Factor and Jane Pauley).

Nielsen wouldn't comment on the terms of the deal, though it is estimated at $500 million. Nielsen struck a series of deals with Viacom earlier this year, which sources pegged at about $400 million, for its various TV properties.

NBC and Nielsen have been negotiating for over a year, with NBC announcing last February its intention to do the group deal. The agreement also includes NBC's support for expanding Nielsen's national peoplemeter sample.

Nielsen called it the "largest and most comprehensive contract of its kind in the history of media research."

It is also the first of its kind for another reason. Nielsen has agreed for the first time to pay financial penalties if certain characteristics of the national sample fall below agreed-to levels, including cooperation rates.

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