Some TV channels will have to make do with less audience data and
will have to move away from a numbers-based airtime trading system, two
leading industry researchers claim.
According to Sue Read, the marketing and research director of the ITV
sales house, Laser, and Hugh Johnson, the head of research at Channel 4,
the media industry of the 21st century will have to limit the amount of
published TV research data as the number of TV channels grows.
As average ratings fall because of audience fragmentation, TV audience
data will become significantly more variable, Read and Johnson warn in a
joint paper on TV audience research in the next millennium.
Merely expanding the size of the TV audience measurement panel could be
far too costly and, for the smaller channels, it will not be possible to
report minute-by-minute ratings figures and, even for some of the larger
channels, reporting on audiences across some parts of the day will be
Read and Johnson are proposing that data for smaller channels and for
dayparts on larger channels should be aggregated to provide more
broad-based information such as average reach and total campaign TVRs.
This means a system of airtime trading for most channels based on
criteria other than minute-by-minute audiences.
Johnson explained: ’It’s absolutely ridiculous and not cost-effective to
provide full data, nor is it sensible from a research point of view; the
samples would be too small to be reliable.’