Why do Nine insist on counting HD simulcasts of sporting events on GEM as part of shares for Nine? By not separating the ratings and shares between Nine and the HD simulcast on GEM, Nine are potentially missing out on marketing opportunities for GEM that could help grow the brand and deliver more ratings on the long term.
As it stands, whenever GEM have a live HD simulcast of a sporting event on Nine – such as the Rugby League Four Nations or Cricket, the ratings count only towards the share for Nine. Depending on the number of people tuning in to the event, Nine thereby achieves shares closer to what they normally might for regular programming while GEM achieves shares close to 0% with only a small amount of unique programming counting towards the GEM share on such a night.
When Ten and ONE televised the New Delhi Commonwealth Games last month, the network spilt shares between Ten and ONE thereby allowing comparisons to be made as to the number of people watching the event on Ten compared to those watching in HD on ONE*.
By doing it this way, it was easy to see the number of viewers watching the Games in HD on One, and delivered record channel shares for ONE HD. ONE was the most watched digital channel on many nights of the Games, outdoing GO which usually is the most watched digital channel. These record channel shares were used by the Ten network to help promote the channel in daily press releases. Not to mention cross promotion between Ten and ONE.
The only draw back is that the same show ends up being listed twice in the daily ratings results, and then one has to combine the two figures to get the result as to how many were watching overall. But it does show how many were watching in HD. In the case of Ten and ONE, ONE’s rating shares were roughly 37% on average those of Ten’s.
If we assume that the figure of 37%** is the proportion of viewers who can watch a sporting event in free to air HD, then we can get a rough idea of what the figures for Nine and GEM may be for the nights they have aired Cricket.
On Wednesday November 3, Nine’s channel share was 22.8% while GEM’s was 0.2% for programming after the cricket. If we assume that the shares after the cricket are small enough not to make any significant difference to the result, then we can conclude that, on November 3. Nine’s share would have been 16.6% while GEM’s would have been 6.4%. On Friday night (Nov 5), Nine’s 20.9% share would have split to 15.3% for Nine, 5.6% for GEM.
Nine with a share of 16.6% may be embarrassingly low in the current context of primary channel shares – but GEM at 6.2% would have made it the highest rating multi channel for the night. Therefore an opportunity Nine could use to further promote the channel and push out via media releases how many were watching the cricket in HD. The 16.6% share for Nine would then easily be boosted by 6.4% for GEM and 4.5% for GO! on that night making a network share of 27.5% – which is not a bad result.
The most likely reason why Nine would not want to break the figures up like this is that the networks still focus predominantly on their main channels which 100% of the population has access to, compared to 75% for the digital channels and even less for the HD channels. Another reason might be the fact that a lot of the content on GEM is not actually in native HD and the fact that channels like GEM and 7mate take away the ability for viewers to see their respective main channel content in HD – still a sore point for many people who have HD TV and are annoyed at no longer being able to see main channel content in HD.
In my opinion, the shares for the channels should be spilt up when simulcasting the main channel in HD. By all means add the two together when reporting how many watched a show in the list of top rating shows for the day, but now that we have all these separate channels, the figures should remain separated at all times. If I was an advertiser, I would want to know the distribution of viewers over channels – even if same content – rather than having it combined.
*I will make the assumption here – that given that Ten and ONE HD were showing the exact same broadcast, with the only exception being when Ten aired to 5pm news, that all viewers tuning into ONE would only have been those who had access to ONE HD, and that noone as a result would have had to – or needed to – watch the ONE SD channel as this is the same as watching Ten which is in SD in any case. As the 5pm news falls before prime time – the only time when One SD and Ten would have been different, it is out of the time that nightly channel shares are considered for and therefore would not make any difference to the overall result of shares for Ten and ONE HD.
** Of course, the figure would actually vary depending more on demographics – for example, as cricket is generally more male skewing, and more males are likely to have HD TV’s than the overall population, the percentage for the cricket may be higher. For the purposes of this post, the assumptions are enough to make the point without going into very deep analysis of demographics and trends and the like