system for the future, by Michael Bodey - 20th
NEW pay-TV ratings system is likely to give Foxtel,
Austar and pay-TV sales group Multi Channel Network
(MCn) and their advertisers a break on their free-to-air
TV rivals next year.
and regional pay-TV group Austar, in conjunction
with MCn, yesterday announced the launch of a
new digital television audience measurement system
(AMS) to begin mid-2009.
will be the largest measurement system in Australia,
providing viewing results from a panel of 10,000
Australian subscription TV homes.
will give the pay-TV providers research into how
Australians are adapting to the digital TV environment,
the acceptance of the new standard definition
and high definition multi-channels and trends
in time-shifted viewing.
one was willing to admit it was a competitive
service to OzTAM's, which measures free-to-air
and pay-TV viewing. Rather the new system is seen
will give pay-TV providers robust information
about audience engagement with all aspects of
their platform's programming, advertising and
advertisers, it's all about accountability and
increasing the level of accountability is not
able to be delivered by existing measurement systems,"
said Austar's chief executive officer John Porter
at the annual Australian Subscription Television
& Radio Association conference in Sydney.
"It will really measure the level of engagement
with programming and by default with the advertising."
will not begin reporting time-shifted free-to-air
TV viewing until February 2010 with its next-generation
TV measurement system Unitam, although unofficial
data is expected to be provided to the networks
urgency for this is now paramount as the FTAs
are unlikely to like the pay-TV providers having
a research edge with advertisers.
new digital broadcast environment was a key focus
for Mr Porter and Foxtel chief Kim Williams at
Williams dismissed the FTA broadcasters as "not
adaptive or responsive" and compared them
to the textile and footwear industries.
like all protected industries, while they negotiate
the terms of being less protected, they eventually
Williams said their multi-channel roll-out had
been "particularly inept" and he pilloried
the expected launch of the FreeView brand, which
plans to consolidate the Seven, Nine, Ten, ABC,
SBS and regional TV networks' digital channels.
is a slogan not a product and there's a very big
difference between a piece of branding or sloganeering
and a delivered product," he said.
added the rush to acquire programming for their
new standard definition digital channels, which
launch in January, will stretch their finances.
aware of the number of product deals they've been
doing and if they continue to pay the sort of
money they've been paying to build up their catalogues
for FreeView, let it roll, because let me tell
you, they're going to go out of business,"
Williams said the free-to-airs were paying multiples
of five to 20 times the going rates for programming,
which is believed to be primarily in the general
Mr Williams and Mr Porter were characteristically
optimistic about pay TV's future, despite the
threat of the internet, new FTA channels and a
Porter said interest rate rises mean some subscribers
drop off but: "It's a very small percentage
of our customer base (and) there is no substantial
impact on the financial side of our business".
Williams also noted the troubled launch of Foxtel's
new subscriber management system, particularly
the failure of technicians to adapt to new voice
recognition software, was close to being resolved.
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