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Confusing TV ratings

/ 05:09 AM December 18, 2017

The ratings war between the country’s top television networks—ABS-CBN Corp. and GMA Network Inc.—has become tighter, and confusing, as the year nears its end.

Citing data from research company Kantar Media, ABS-CBN said it had an average audience share of 46 percent in last November’s national TV ratings as against GMA’s 34 percent.

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On the other hand, relying on data submitted by Nielsen Philippines, GMA said it had an average total day people audience of 43.2 percent, which is above ABS-CBN’s 38.2 percent.

Both companies have claimed conflicting superiority in viewership ratings in urban Luzon, Mega Manila, total Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. The “one-upmanship” contest is mind-boggling because the two networks have cited research data collected and evaluated by reputable research firms to justify their respective claims.

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Based on the limited information released by the survey companies on how they gathered information and arrived at their findings, it is difficult to say which TV network is telling the truth or is misinterpreting the figures.

The methodology used in determining TV viewing preference is different from that employed by research companies that monitor public reaction to government-related issues, e.g., trust rating of top government officials and contentious government actions.

The two TV companies’ fight for viewership superiority is understandable. It is crucial to their bottom line (and their stockholders) as the ratings play a significant role in determining the rates they can impose on advertisements, especially during the evening prime time.

For their operations and creative staff, the spike or decline in ratings could spell the difference between continued employment or promotion and loss of jobs.

The competition for advertising revenue has become more critical lately for ABS-CBN and GMA in the wake of the proliferation of national and local cable TV companies that offer a variety of programs to different audiences at reasonable prices.

Although cable TV was originally promoted in the country as advertisement-free, with the cable rental fees supposedly making up for the loss in advertising revenue, the cable companies have been allowed by the government to accept advertisements on top of rental fees.

To the chagrin of the two networks, cable TV companies can air the former’s programs without paying royalty fees since these are considered “free programs” that are available to everybody, as ruled by the National Telecommunications Commission.

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As if the financial threat from cable TV is not enough, ABS-CBN and GMA have to contend also with internet websites and other social media facilities that can provide similar (if not more interesting) levels of information and entertainment.

Despite the poor state of broadband facilities in the country, more people, the millennials in particular, have taken to computers, laptops and smartphones to satisfy their information or recreation needs.

On account of this development, many commercial advertisers have—like ants attracted to sugar—moved some of their placements and other promotional activities from TV to internet-based portals that are attractive to millennials or people who have extra income to buy their products or services.

With the challenges from cable TV and the internet expected to further grow in the coming years, the two networks have their work cut out for them if they want to remain financially viable.

They have to substantially increase their viewership to take advantage of whatever advertisement revenues can still be squeezed from the commercial sources that have not yet been poached by the competition.

So what can we make out of the ongoing ratings war between ABS-CBN and GMA? It’s simply a promotional stunt aimed at drawing attention to their programs.

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TAGS: ABS-CBN Corp., Business, GMA Network Inc., TV ratings
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