ATV - Asia Television Limited

TVB enlists Nielsen to run ratings

PUBLISHED : Friday, 23 March, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 23 March, 2012, 12:00am

TVB has hired the company behind America's famous Nielsen ratings to monitor viewing levels over the next five years.

And, for the first time, the research will also include those who watch on the internet.

In co-operation with the Association of Accredited Advertising Agencies, the station appointed marketing researcher Nielsen to monitor viewing habits from next year until 2017. It will install meters in television sets and computers in 800 households, up from 650 households covered by the previous surveyor CSM Media Research.

But TVB general manager Cheong Shin-keong said the decision to part with CSM had nothing to do with a dispute between CSM and rival ATV, which claimed the old monitoring system underestimated its audience and lacked transparency.

ATV dumped CSM at the beginning of last year and appointed the University of Hong Kong's public opinion programme to conduct telephone surveys, rather than constantly monitoring the same viewers and extrapolating the results.

Cheong said TVB had approached ATV to work with Nielsen but had been rebuffed.

'It seems that [the ATV executive TVB was dealing with] does not fully understand what television ratings are,' he said, adding that the methodology used by ATV did not meet international standards.

HKU's latest survey last week put the audience for ATV's variety show Speed Date at 652,000 people. CSM's measurement suggested 192,210 people watched it.

Ricky Wong Wai-kay of City Telecom, one of three bidders hoping to operate new free-to-air television channels, said his company intended to carry out separate research on audience figures.

Cheong said he had approached City and the two other operators seeking free-to-air licences, cable companies PCCW and i-Cable - as partners in the Nielsen survey.

'If he [Wong] adopts the same international standards, he would likely get similar ratings as ours... Although TVB pays Nielsen, we cannot intervene in the survey,' Cheong said.

He said monitoring computers and the use of websites such as TVB's My TV to watch shows would better reflect a programme's total audience, especially among younger viewers.

Nielson Hong Kong managing director Oliver Rust said the company would choose families that were representative of the city's population by using a statistical model. The sample was usually changed every five to 10 years, he added.

An ATV spokesman said the station would stick with the HKU surveys as it found them to be more representative. The two free-to-air broadcasters worked together on ratings for 30 years before the split.