The Ten Network‘s chief executive, Grant Blackley, has spoken out on claims that television audiences are declining, and that the ratings panel used for television audience measurements are “flawed”.
Blackley wrote an article for The Sydney Morning Herald, where he claims that the use of PVRs for ad-skipping are exaggerated because time-shifted figures are included and live audiences still accounts for 95% of all television viewing. Time-shifted viewing was recorded by ratings analysis company OzTAM from the end of last year.
He claims that confusion arose due to the mechanics of adding households with PVRs to the ratings panel, which are used by OzTAM to calculate ratings figures, are not well understood. Blackley says that OzTAM had to go through a process of removing and replacing approximately eight-hundred survey homes, which equates to 27% of the panel.
Households with PVRs are typically younger than traditional households, are more likely to have digital television and or pay-television, often have more than one television and watch more than the normal standard.
Speaking out on declining television audiences, Blackley says that the suggestion that fewer people are watching television is incorrect. At the end of survey week twenty-five (week ending June 19), total audiences for primetime were up 3% on last year, and up 3.3% for the entire day. The “elusive” 18-49 demographic was also up 9.2% in primetime on last year.
The audience fragmentation between the older and new channels was then taken into account. Blackley admits that with around 400,000 viewers watching the digital channels, it was not unexpected to have lowered audiences on the primary channels. He also said that the fragmentation will only continue as more audiences switch to digital television.
In terms of advertisers, Blackley reveals that high rating programs such as MasterChef Australia will become more valuable and expensive for clients. He predicts as audiences spread across channels, the expectations as to what constitutes a “high rating program” will change.
Blackley says the possibility of commercial break ratings and new campaign tolerance levels are not what is required, but instead a re-education of the market, factoring in the cumulative effect of the changing ratings panel. Additionally, he suggests more knowledge is needed on the effect of time-shifted ratings data, and the “explosion” of choice offered on the digital channels.