By Sheila Dang
(Reuters) - Comcast Corp unit Sky said on Wednesday it has adopted a new tool to improve audience data for its advertisers, as Comcast looks to expand its reach following its $40 billion (£30 billion) acquisition of the UK pay-TV provider.
Sky will use CFlight, a metric created by Comcast's NBCUniversal arm, which unifies the way viewership of advertisements is counted, regardless of whether an ad is viewed on television or streaming platforms like Hulu.
This is the first time CFlight, which NBCUniversal launched last year, will be used outside the United States, the companies said.
The advertising world has long sought an industry-wide standard to measure TV audiences whether they're watching content through a cable box or a streaming service.
Better data will make it easier for advertisers to buy ads to fit their targets and compare how the ads are performing, the companies said.
"We need to make sure it's easy for advertisers to track and measure their money with us," John Litster, managing director of Sky Media, said in an interview.
On linear television, or programs watched on broadcast networks or through cable and satellite, viewership for an ad is determined by the average commercial minute viewing, or the average rating over the course of a show when the ad was aired.
For digital ads, CFlight's standard requires the ad to be watched from beginning to end. Combined, the metric is able to determine the total views of an ad across linear and digital.
Sky Media's Germany and Italy segments will also use CFlight in the future, Litster said.
Sky is also in early talks with its competitors in Britain, TV channels ITV and Channel 4, to get them to adopt CFlight, he said.
Media company Viacom and TV advertising company Simulmedia are already using CFlight in the United States.
The metric is open-source, meaning anyone can see the methodology that CFlight uses to measure ad impressions, and the companies using it are not "grading their own homework," said Kavita Vazirani, executive vice president of strategic insights and analytics at NBCUniversal, in an interview.
(Reporting by Sheila Dang; Editing by Sonali Paul)