Wednesday 11 July 2012

Playing with numbers: So is Ch 5 viewership up or down?

I read this in yesterday's Today newspaper (owned by MediaCorp):
Even as MediaCorp's Channel 5 has increased its viewership, Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts Yaacob Ibrahim said yesterday that more must be done to "increase the quality and reach" of local Public Service Broadcast (PSB) programmes...

He was responding to Nominated Member of Parliament Janice Koh's questions on PSB programmes, including a question on measures to "increase the quality and popularity of original English-language programming, in light of decreasing viewership figures for Channel 5".

Dr Yaacob pointed out that, as of last month, Channel 5's average daily prime-time reach had increased to 650,000 viewers, up from the past three years' average of 610,000 viewers.
So according to the minister, Channel 5 viewership is actually growing. So how did Janice Koh get the impression that it's the opposite?

Maybe she read it in The Straits Times. Back in March, ST reported:
According to a survey by data company Nielsen, the daily viewership figure for Channel 5 decreased from 1.038 million in 2010 to 998,000 last year.

This is a drop of 3.8 per cent. In 2006 and 2007, the number was 1.29 million and 1.075 million.
To which MediaCorp countered:
Based on Kantar Media surveys, the daily TV Audience Measurement system used by the industry, Channel 5’s primetime daily reach over the past two years has been stable.


So ST and Janice Koh say Channel 5 viewership is dropping, but MediaCorp and Dr Yaacob say it's not.

Why the discrepancy?

One obvious difference is the source of the numbers: ST uses AC Nielsen whereas MediaCorp uses Kantar Media, which I've never heard of.

When I last worked at MediaCorp, it used another research company called Taylor Nelson Sofres.

MediaCorp and Dr Yaacob also used the word "reach", an advertising term that can be used to puff up figures.

Why does all this matter?

Because if MediaCorp and Mica won't even agree that viewership is falling, how do you argue that Channel 5 sucks and it should improve its programming - as Janice Koh tried to do?

Finally, to further add irony to denial, Dr Yaacob reportedly "stressed that MediaCorp would not rest on its laurels, saying that more would be done to improve the quality and reach of programmes".


Le Bisellahause, anyone?

It's business as usual.