Nielsen CEO David Kenny Exits, Karthik Rao Promoted

Nielsen Holdings has promoted Karthik Rao, the former CEO of Nielsen’s audience measurement business, to CEO. Rao will replace David Kenny, who has held the role since 2018.

Kenny will now assume the role of executive chairman. In a statement announcing the move, Kenny said Rao has his “complete support.”

“Nielsen has been my home for most of my career, and I could not be more excited for this new opportunity,” Rao said. “Nielsen invented measurement a century ago. In that time, the way audiences consume content has fundamentally shifted many times over, and we are committed to continuing to partner with our customers to lead that change. I am fortunate to work alongside the best in the business, around the world, as we address unprecedented times of transition in our business. Together with our talented employees, I look forward to positioning Nielsen for the next century and beyond.”

“I have been fortunate to lead this company through some extraordinary times in the past five years, working alongside Karthik for much of it,” Kenny said. “As I transition to my new role and my operating responsibilities come to an end, I hand over leadership to someone with extensive experience in knowing what Nielsen does best, backed by the skills and understanding to position the company for a vibrant future. He has my complete support and I wish him, and everyone at Nielsen, nothing but tremendous success.”

Rao has served as CEO of the audience measurement business since early 2023. The division is responsible for driving and evolving Nielsen’s audience measurement. Prior to this role, Rao served as Nielsen’s chief operating officer, and before that he was CEO of Nielsen Portfolio, a division that includes Nielsen Entertainment, Nielsen Gracenote, Nielsen Brandbank and the Nielsen Telecom.

Nielsen has long been the go-to metric when it comes to broadcast and cable viewership. But in recent years, the company has altered its audience measurement tools to include streaming, a move that has placed them back in the middle of the conversation around television. In the midst of two strikes and a TV landscape dominated by secretive streaming services, Nielsen offers a glimpse into the all-important question: Who’s watching what?

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