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Researchers doubt new TV rating system would be cost-effective

Although a group of broadcasters preparing to air television programmes on the new digital terrestrial platform are calling for an improved audience-measurement system to complement Nielsen's, leading media and research agencies believe the cost of establishing such a rating system would be too high in terms of return on investment.

Wannee Ruttanaphon, chairwoman of IPG Mediabrands Thailand, told The Nation that the cost of developing a new platform for such a system would be quite high in today's fragmented media-consumption era.

To support such an initiative, the research should be subsidised by the broadcasting regulator, in this case the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC), she added.

Daranee Charoen-Rajapark, managing director of GFK Marketwise, said her company also acknowledged that this would entail a considerable investment."Though GFK provides such a service for media industries in many countries, for the Thai market we would focus on our key areas, such as online qualitative research, social-media analysis and social-media intelligence, for a number of clients in the consumer-goods, automotive, consumer-health and pharmaceuticals, and financial services," she said.

It appears at this point that Nielsen, which has long experience in the Thai TV broadcasting industry, will maintain its key role as the common currency for broadcasters, media agencies and advertisers.

As the launch of 24 commercial digital TV channels draws near, TV operators have raised concerns over the limitation of audience surveys conducted by Nielsen. They believe that the sample sizes used by Nielsen will be insufficient for the new, expanding coverage areas, so they need another firm to do similar surveys to ensure a level playing field for new players.

For its part, Nielsen (Thailand) insists that it plans to increase its sample sizes from 1,800 homes to 2,200 in preparation for the 24 new digital channels.

To make this measurement more complete, Sinthu Peatrarut, managing director for media client leadership at Nielsen (Thailand), said his team would add another 1,000 homes for its independent survey to be in line with the NBTC signal-coverage road map. Additionally, the firm expected to deploy additional people meters three months after the digital TV channels take to the air in April, expecting to complete this by mid-2015.

To handle this situation, NBTC commissioner Thawatchai Jittrapanun, chairman of a subcommittee governing competition in broadcasting service, said during a focus group this week that the commission would be supportive if the broadcasters jointly established an association to develop and manage a new rating system.

This system could be similar to the Broadcasters' Audience Research Board in Britain. The BARB is managed by a collaboration of the British Broadcasting Corporation, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5, BSkyB and the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising.

"If this model could be established in this country, they would be able to submit a proposal for subsidy from the NBTC Research and Development Fund," Thawatchai suggested.


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