Michael Cairns, Chief operating officer, Rotana Media Group
Tarek Mounir, GM of Turner for Middle East, North Africa, Turkey, Greece & Cyprus
Sanjay Raina, GM, MENA and Pakistan at Fox International Channels
Chris O’Hearn, Consultant to tview
DB: How important is the UAE’s tview service and what role does it play in the development of peoplemeters regionally?
O’Hearn: The importance of the UAE people meter system to any user is directly proportional to how important the UAE media market is to them.
If you’re a pan-regional broadcaster or advertiser then it is somewhere in the middle - big enough to matter but behind KSA and Egypt.
If you’re more Gulf or UAE oriented, and certainly if you are a UAE broadcaster or entity, including government, then this should be the most important thing on your media radar.
In terms of regional development I think it is very well placed as a pilot for the region. Big enough to matter and give some real insight before dealing with the change to electronic measurement in other markets, if they ever take it up.
Raina: tview is an extremely important service that actually measures the real TV viewership using metrics that are proven the world over and without error and glitch. The peoplemeter method is a universally accepted system and in the same light very essential for business in this part of the world. There isn’t any other peoplemeter system in place in the whole of MENA region and in that scenario tview stands out.
DB: Is the lack of peoplemeters across the Middle East and North Africa holding the region’s media industry back compared with Europe and the US, for example?
Mounir: Most certainly. Europe and the US are now advancing into digital measurement for OTT and second screen viewing whilst the Middle East has yet to measure traditional linear viewing.
Cairns: TV Audience measurement systems are presently available in some 80 countries globally including all the major key advertising markets in the US and Europe for example. Until people meters are rolled out across the region media investment will continue to be undervalued and not recognised on the global stage and the market will continue to lack transparency.
O’Hearn: Without doubt the lack of electronic measurement in the MENA region is holding it back enormously. Overall spend is probably a third of the size it should be when benchmarked against other regions and rates are similarly low.
What’s also obvious is that big multinational companies - broadcasters and advertisers - are reluctant to invest heavily in TV in this region. I know of a very experienced and frequently-contacted consultant in the media sector who essentially tells international clients to forget about investing here - they can’t calculate ROI and they can’t plan a strategy in the way they would pretty much anywhere else in the world.
Raina: Absolutely yes. The systems in place are way too exposed to errors and miscalculations and can be rectified only if a credible and audited people meter system sustains itself. With millions of dollars pledged to free to air TV stations by brands across MENA, it is imperative that brands and hence media agencies are in a position to evaluate audience deliveries and this should essentially be effected through a professional people meter system.
DB: If implemented across the region, how would people meters impact the MENA TV industry?
Raina: As I said above, millions of dollars are at stake. Peoplemeters will enhance viewership metrics, deliver exact information on viewer behaviour and hence help all advertisers to reach the right and targeted advertiser. In addition it would help the brands to understand audience behaviour, channel loyalties, migration analysis et all. The possibilities are limitless and I see no reason why MENA region is devoid of a large footprint peoplemeter system.
Cairns: Objective and transparent audience measurement is a vital part of the development of the media industry “eco system”. Rollout across the MENA region should lead to better understanding of the MENA TV market which will drive investment in advertising expenditure per capita to levels seen in other developing media markets.
O’Hearn: It would have a very virtuous circle - more money for programming, more money in production, in creative and all through the chain.
It would also lead to more investment and attention for the region - sometimes I think that’s why some of the incumbents are reluctant to embrace these systems, as it would lead to more competition. They’d have a smaller share of a bigger market and that’s not attractive.
Mounir: By establishing fairness and transparency, paving the way for much heathier competition.
DB: What role does the UAE’s tview service play in the development of peoplemeters regionally?
Mounir: tview is a huge milestone for the advancement of TV audience measurement in the region; by being the first to provide sound, minute by minute viewing data based on actual viewing rather than claimed viewing. tview’s success is crucial in the development of peoplemeter systems in other parts of the GCC and wider MENA region.
Cairns: A large percentage of media buying for the entire region takes place in the UAE and the availability of objective and transparent audience measurement in the UAE is a vital part of the development of the media industry for both broadcasters and advertisers. Once tview’s audience measurement has been established as an independent “currency” for more accurate measurement of audiences it should lead to pressure for peoplemeters to roll out across the region.
A report from Oliver Wyman in 2013 stated that the MENA TV market suffers because advertisers and networks “cannot manage what they cannot measure”.
Without reliable audience measurement systems that track and report viewership on each registered channel on a minute-by-minute basis, market players cannot identify and reward the quality and creativity of content production and realise the economic opportunities offered by network advertising, the report stated.
In advanced TV markets, systems like People-meters have sparked a flourishing business, focusing attention and providing actionable metrics.
tview is the brand name of the UAE’s television audience measurement system, responsible for providing estimates of the number of people watching television at any given time in the day, obtained from a panel of television owning households representing the viewing behaviour the households within the UAE.
BACKGROUND: The tview project was the result of a Federal Cabinet initiative and has been led by the National Media Council and the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority.
The development was initiated in January 2010 and was endorsed by the Ministerial Council for Services in March 2010. In 2011, the National Media Council entered into a joint venture agreement regarding the development and implementation of tview with leading broadcast entities, Abu Dhabi Media, Sharjah Media Corporation, Rotana Media, Etisalat and du to form EMMC. These companies agreed to collectively fund the project.
Kantar Media/TNS was selected to do the data collection, thus maintaining transparency in tview’s results. The Advertisers Business Group (ABG) was represented on the steering committee that oversaw the setup and formation of EMMC as well.
THE AIM: The objective of tview is to develop a deep and detailed understanding of TV viewership in the UAE and aims to generate transparent, accountable and reliable ratings that will be used as a currency of trade for the media industry.
This viewing research data will enable broadcasters, media agencies and advertisers to improve TV programming, scheduling and advertising and ensure that their commissioning and development are strategic in their design, execution and planning.
Rotana Television has been involved in the tview project since its inception in 2012 and sees audience measurement data as important in terms of helping broadcasters to gain a far better understanding of viewing habits. “Audience measurement data helps broadcasters like Rotana to understand what channels and more specifically what programs are being watched at any particular time, by which audience demographic and for how long. This is valuable information for broadcasters to produce and schedule TV shows at times that audiences want to watch,” said Michael Cairns, chief operating officer, Rotana Media Group.
Tarek Mounir, GM of Turner for Middle East, North Africa, Turkey, Cyprus and Greece agrees. “tview has proven a valuable tool – both editorially and commercially. The data has given us clarity on the performance of our channels and programmes as well as a better understanding of our audience demographic and the competitive landscape,” he says.
Cairns adds that by better understanding audience behaviour, broadcasters are encouraged to make better TV shows “which audiences will want to watch and advertisers will want to invest in order to reach” those audiences. “Ultimately it creates a win-win-win for audiences, advertisers and broadcasters alike,” he says.
In terms of using the data, Mounir says that weekly and monthly channel performance reports are utilised by all departments at Turner. “From programming and scheduling, to ad-sales, sharing robust data and insights has allowed for much more transparency. This has helped us build trust with our commercial partners and strengthen relationships,” he says.