Bill Livek: Faculty ‘helped launch my career’

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Bill Livek: Faculty ‘helped launch my career’

By Pete Rosenbery

Bill Livek, the vice chairman and CEO of Rentrak, credits faculty at SIU Carbondale and in the College of Mass Communication and Media Arts with inspiring his career choice in measuring consumer behavior.

“The professors under whom I mentored while at SIU were nothing short of inspirational and helped launch my career,” Livek said. “Without attending SIU, I’m not sure where my career would be today.”

A 1976 graduate from the Department of Radio and Television with a specialty in advertising sales, Livek has been with Rentrak since June 2009. The company measures the movies and television shows that people watch and merges the viewership information “with information about the products that people buy, the cars they drive and how they vote.”  That enables the company to provide clients with a “precise understanding of not just what households are watching, but also how to target those households with the appropriate advertising,” Livek said.

Rentrak measures movies people watch in more than 95 percent of the theaters across the world, and partners with every studio and distributor in the country, as well as theater chains and content companies around the globe. Rentrak is also the only company that measures movies and video-on-demand on a census basis, Livek said. In television ratings, the company gathers detailed viewing information from more than 120 million TVs, including specific detailed information for television stations in all 210 markets across the United States.

Livek became involved in the industry largely because of his exposure to ratings and research while in college.

“At the epicenter of the media industry is a need to quantify who is watching TV,” he said.

Livek first worked at Arbitron and became head of sales and marketing for the company. With his business partner, Livek went on to build both Scarborough and Simmons Marketing Research as co-owner. He later sold Simmons to Experian before joining Rentrak as CEO. On Sept. 29, Rentrak announced a merger with comScore to create the leading cross-platform measurement company in the media industry. When the merger is approved by regulators and shareholders, Livek will take the role of vice chairman and president of the combined company. He started college at DePaul University studying television and film, when he said a professor there said the best school in the Midwest was SIU Carbondale, so he transferred his sophomore year.

Livek is a member of the college’s Dean’s National Industry Council. It is an honor to serve, he said.

“All state universities are facing unprecedented challenges because of lack of funding,” Livek said. “I believe SIU can fly in this adverse environment largely because of the strength of the teaching staff. I want to help provide this real-life industry awareness so SIU can continue to thrive.”

For current students, Livek said that nothing is more important to a person’s career than practical experience – whether through the available on-campus media opportunities or in jobs outside the university environment.

“Apply yourself every waking hour to school and work,” he said. “Some of this will be related to what you want to do in your career, and some will be for the purpose of just being around people and developing social skills.”