The TV channels’ Internet audience will be counted real time: “Big Data Ua” Agency presented its own methodology for calculating viewers of OTT/IPTV platforms.
The Internet is no longer a luxury; the Internet is quite a common means of surfing around the world of various information and data. And the high-speed broadband Internet is even more so. Its basal technologies have long allowed transferring not just texts and pictures (as it was some twenty years ago), but also sound and video, the quality of which equals or sometimes betters the one offered by the traditional media like radio and television. Therefore, none is surprised by their gradual migration to the World Wide Web, where they are slowly growing roots, acquiring new, previously uncommon functions, and step-by-step gaining the audience of traditional platforms like terrestrial, cable and satellite ones.
But how active is this process? How many viewers prefer watching TV broadcasts online? How often? What platforms and devices do they use? And, surely, which is the standard? After all, they are two in fact: IPTV, which is inherently analogous to the usual cable television, but just using an IP protocol for transmission; and OTT, which is a standard for live streaming “over networks and barriers”, giving users a total freedom and an option to get favorite content across the world, without particular reference to a specific operator.
A lot depends on the answers to these questions. Both in technical, legal, and financial terms. After all, the business must know, in what direction it should develop, what technologies should be introduced more actively, and which ones to be closed up bit by bit. The government, copyright holders, lawyers, they all want to be aware of how to regulate the emerging market, how to settle arising disputes, what to praise and reward, and what to fine and punish with money. And, finally, advertisers also want to know the nature of online viewers. How many viewers are there? What are they engaged in, what do they like in this life, where do they stay and what do they strive for? After all, none wants to buy a pig in a poke, since everyone desires first to see this pig for himself, or at least feel measure and explore.
Searching answers to these questions has been underway for a long time. However, until now, it was not systematic in our country. As though, by the way. That is, some polls and studies were conducted and are conducted, but each research pursued its own objectives. Someone collected sociology. Someone tested new technical or business models. Someone attended to specific customer’s order. There was not a single, comprehensive and all-inclusive study of the TV market broadcasting online in Ukraine. In any case, the official one. And this is while the traditional TV platforms got entangled with peoplemeters, surrounded by diaries, armed with phone polls and official measurers, whose word was the law. Because their honesty and fairness in conducting researches and measurements affect whether their customers go on buying their measurement results, or will turn to someone else.
In general, the issue of launching something of this kind in Ukraine, but for TV broadcasting online, is not only ripe, but, as they say, overripe. And finally, there seem some changes for the better in this aspect: on October 24, the Ukrainian news agency Ukrinform hosted a press conference on Internet TV viewing, attended by the Chairman of the National Broadcasting Council Iurii Artemenko, the member of regulatory authority Sergei Kostinsky, as well as CEO of Independent Rating Agency “BIG DATA UA” Sergei Boyko (former president of “Volia-cable”). They were who presented information on the popularity of TV channels broadcasting in OTT/IPTV packages of leading Ukrainian providers. That information derived from the analysis using Big Data Rating system and covering more than 450 households in Ukraine.
Inaugurating press conference, the Chairman of the National Broadcasting Council Iurii Artemenko pointed out that the idea of setting up a specialized agency that would study ratings of cable companies, as well as OTT/IPTV providers, had been discussed by the market players for quite a long time. Since until now, there had been a vacuum in this area. Therefore, the National Broadcasting Council proves active in welcoming the appearance of such an agency, and is pleased to have the opportunity of starting cooperation with it. For its part, the regulator, according to Iurii Artemenko, is ready to fully support the agency’s operation and, namely, plans to publish monthly the latest online TV popularity researches on its official website. Thus, the National Broadcasting Council plans to inform about the popularity dynamics of Ukrainian TV channels both the business and vast interested parties.
Why is all that so important? First of all, according to the Chairman of the National Broadcasting Council, the regulator will assist in this way small market participants in providing information on real popularity ratings of certain channels. After all, not all TV channels can now get into the classical research panel because of financial issues, and the results themselves are distributed exclusively within the professional environment. On the other hand, reporting on ratings to the general public will contribute to the increased competition between TV channels. Second, Iurii Artemenko can see that one of the National Broadcasting Council’s missions is to popularize the latest promising content distribution technologies. In particular, taking into account the need to define principles of future OTT/IPTV market regulation in Ukraine. That is why the National Broadcasting Council will be very glad to evidence the appearance of other similar agencies on the market that would also be able to facilitate this process. The result should be the emergence of a professional analytical platform on the basis of the regulatory authority that would prepare information extremely necessary for adopting certain decisions. According to Iurii Artemenko, the beginning of cooperation with the “BIG DATA UA” Agency will be the first step towards achieving the objectives set by the National Broadcasting Council. Next to do is the search and elaboration of solutions aimed at combating piracy, market non-transparency and underreporting (a phenomenon that stands for operators’ understating figures reflecting the number of their subscribers).
In turn, the CEO of “BIG DATA UA” agency Sergei Boyko stated that he also considered it a very important step to start cooperation of his agency with the regulatory authority. And first of all, because the cooperation of private companies and the public ones in our country is not yet notably developed, and this case should become a worthy role model of how private business can cooperate with government bodies, providing them with insights required for more qualitative and professional work for the benefit of the market evolution. Since, according to Sergei Boyko, high-quality insights are exactly what any government authority lacks for an actual qualitative decision-making. And the more insights are available to regulators, the more cogent and authoritative will be their decisions.
From now on, according to Sergei Boyko, the cooperation of his agency with the National Broadcasting Council will progress immediately in several aspects. And first of all, it will provide insights focusing on the situation in pay-TV sector of Ukraine. Specifically, in the near future, the “BIG DATA UA” agency is about to release a guide accumulating all information about domestic market participants. This information will be available to both the National Broadcasting Council and the general public, which would help to cultivate a competitive environment and market transparency.
The member of the National Broadcasting Council Sergei Kostinsky for his part reassured the importance and validity of the information that the regulator will get from the rating agency. And its particular importance for deciding on those or other violations. For example, data on the real number of the audience is very important when considering issues on viewer rights violations, children and youth rights protection, inviolability of Ukraine’s territory, stirring up hatred and popularization of the aggressor country’s government authorities. Thus, the higher the channel rating, the greater is its responsibility.
Sergei Kostinsky remarked that the National Broadcasting Council’s website already has some information on the research methodology, as well as first results dated back to September. According to the above results, today, the most popular thematic group of TV channels in Ukraine is general TV channels. For the time being, their share is almost 60%. They are followed by children’s TV channels (some 10%), the entertainment ones (some 7%), as well as film TV channels and news channels (5% each).
According to the study, the most popular general channels were 1+1, STB, Ukraina, ICTV and Novy Channel. The most popular children’s TV channels among OTT/IPTV users were Plus Plus, Pixel, Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon. The top five entertainment channels were represented by TET, Mega, Sonce, Kvartal TV and Trofey. The category of film channels was led by TV 1000 Action East, FOX, Enter-film, TV 1000 East and TV 1000 Comedy. The top five news channels were as follows: 112, News One, Espresso, Pryamyi, 24. Among the educational channels boasting the highest rating there were National Geographic, Discovery Channel, Nat Geo Wild, Animal Planet and Discovery Science. The top five music channels included M1, Music Box UA, EU Music, M2 and O-TV. And the most rated sports TV channels were Football 1, Football 2, Eurosport 1, Eurosport 2 and Viasat Sport.
Commenting on these results, Sergei Boyko emphasized that the “BIG DATA UA” Agency was studying OTT/IPTV audience, an advanced audience that, according to him, had an absolute idea of what channel to watch. To date, the agency has been monitoring two hundred TV channels, also including the regional ones, which are also well represented on online platforms. Therefore, according to Sergei Boyko, these ratings show us what will be popular tomorrow, since this is the audience that sets the trend to be eventually reflected also in the results of viewing terrestrial TV channels. Moreover, Mr. Boyko stressed that the “BIG DATA UA” Agency’s methodology provides for measuring all subscribers connected to the system (there are 456 thousand households), and not a limited sample with its preferences, taken as a basis of studying terrestrial channels’ popularity. However, at the press conference, it was stressed that the “BIG DATA UA” Agency in no case was eager to challenge the system adopted by the Nielsen Agency, dealing with exploring terrestrial TV market. It is rather about its completing, and also about an alternative approach to studying channel ratings. Moreover, as stated by Sergei Boyko, many rating agencies abroad, including Nielsen, are increasingly appealing to the “fusion” principle to draft ratings due to combining several audience measurement techniques.
Mr. Boyko also specified the most significant difference between the methodology of his company and the “traditional” techniques. According to him, the “traditional” methods use the so-called attitudinal approach to preparing research materials. Thus, the same results are presented to the public once a year. And over the year, the market situation can change very importantly. In particular, if in the next spring Ukraine still transits from analog to digital TV standards, this will significantly redistribute audience between various technological platforms. And the attitudinal study able to show these changes will be conducted only at the end of next year. That is why Internet researches, which allow obtaining audience number information virtually real time, is more relevant and opportune. However, Sergei Boyko admits that at present, this study mainly reflects the preferences of city residents, since the situation with the broadband Internet penetration in rural areas very often leaves much to be desired.
It only remains to add that more extensive and detailed information on the ratings of TV channels present in the OTT/IPTV packages of the leading Ukrainian providers can be found on the National Broadcasting Council’s website.