Nielsen's NRG Acquired by Stagwell Group

Courtesy of RexUSA

NRG, which has been providing studios with market research for nearly four decades, was acquired by Nielsen, famous for its TV-ratings service, in 2002.

Nielsen has sold its National Research Group movie-marketing tool to Stagwell Group for an undisclosed amount, the company said Monday.

NRG, which has been providing studios with market research for nearly four decades, was acquired by Nielsen, famous for its TV-ratings service, in 2002.

Stagwell, backed by former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, was created 11 months ago by political analyst Mark Penn, famous for the 3 a.m. phone-call ad in 2008 that questioned then-presidential candidate Barack Obama's crisis-management skills.

Penn said in June the purpose of Stagwell was to identify and acquire undervalued assets in advertising, research, analytics and public relations, and the company had $250 million in order to do so.

NRG is a pioneer in the market-research industry for movies, though competition has heated up more recently, with companies like Marketcast, Rentrak, Screen Engine and PSB Resesarch, the latter of which was co-founded by Penn 35 years ago and is part of Young & Rubicam today.

Last month, Stagwell made its first acquisition when it paid up to $75 million for SKD Knickerbocker, the Democratic public relations firm that employs Hilary Rosen, the former head of the RIAA.

NRG employs 100 people in Los Angeles and London. The firm conducts more than 1 million tracking-survey interviews each year.

Howard Ballon has been appointed interim CEO of NRG upon closing of the deal.

"NRG has been a global leader in Hollywood market research and we see product innovation as a key ingredient for success in a rapidly changing entertainment marketing landscape," Penn said Monday.

Email: Paul.Bond@THR.com

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