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Nielsen Holdings (NYSE: NLSN) | Company Profile, History, Competitors


Nielsen Holdings (NYSE: NLSN) provides business metrics on consumer trends. It was founded in 1923 and headquartered in New York, NY.

Nielsen was founded in 1923 by Arthur Nielsen. It initially began as offering market share data to grocery firms, but then expanded to radio ratings and TV audience measurement. In 2006, it was acquired by a consortium of private equity firms. It went public in 2011.

Business Overview

Nielsen operates in two main segments:
  • Watch (51% of 2017 Revenues): Provides viewership and listening data to media and advertising companies.
  • Buy (49% of 2017 Revenues): Provides retail transaction data and consumer behavior data.

Watch Segment

Nielsen tracks viewership and listening data across television, radio, digital and mobile platforms.

In television, Nielsen's audience ratings is the primary currency used by US broadcasters to establish the value of their airtime. Nielsen measures both national television audiences and local television audiences in 210 television markets in the US. Nielsen collects data from households by using electronic meters and written diaries. 

Nielsen also measures TV ratings in 35 countries around the world including Australia, Italy and South Korea.

In radio, following the acquisition of Arbitron in 2013, Nielsen tracks national and local radio audience ratings. The data is used by broadcasters to sell advertising time and it provides qualitative data about consumers. 

Nielsen measures and studies internet browsing. Nielsen tracks audience demographics, page and ad views, and time spent statistics. Nielsen also provides data on user engagement on social networks for TV shows.

Nielsen provides metrics on market share for telecom and mobile operators. Mobile measurement is available in over 60 countries.

Buy Segment

Nielsen provides analytical data for consumer product markets.

Retail Measurement
Nielsen provides market share and sales volume on retail products. Nielsen collects the data on electronic point of sales POS systems and from local field experts. 

Consumer Panels
Nielsen conducts consumer panels and survey to help companies understand consumer behavior. Nielsen collects blind data from more than 250,000 households in 25 countries using mobile scanners.[1]

Analytical Services
Nielsen provides consumer intelligence and analytical services based on its consumer purchasing information.


The company was founded in 1923 by Arthur Nielsen as the AC Nielsen Company. It began offering market share measurement data for grocery stores in the 1930s, radio rating services in 1942 and TV audience measurement in 1950.

In 1984, the company was acquired by Dun & Bradstreet. In 1996, it was spun off separately into two companies. Nielsen Media Research became a subsidiary of Cognizant Corporation. AC Nielsen was spun off as a separate company.

In 199, Dutch firm VNU acquired Nielsen Media Research and AC Nielsen in 2001. In 2006, VNU was taken private in a leveraged buyout. In 2011, the company went public.


Dwight M. Barns (CEO): Dwight Barnes serves as CEO since 2014. Prior, he served in various roles at Nielsen including President Global Client Services, President US Watch Division, President China and President of Base & Analytics.

Jamere Jackson (CFO): Jamere Jackson serves as CFO since 2014. Prior, he served in various roles at General Electric, including VP Drilling & Services Division and CFO of GE Aviation.


 $ USD in millions     2013     2014  2015  2016  2017
 Revenues  $5,703  $6,288  $6,172  $6,309  $6,572 
 Gross Profit  $3,305  $3,668   $3,633   $3,702   $3,807 
 Operating Profit  $861  $1,089   $1,093   $1,143   $1,225 
 Net Income $740  $384  $570   $502   $429 
 EPS $1.94  $1.00  $1.54  $1.39  $1.20