It is understood that the two founding subscribers (HK4As and TVB) to the service have already briefed Nielsen, CSM Media Research (the current TV rating provider) and Hong Kong University. Each of the potential bidders are now waiting for specifications from the joint clients before submitting their proposals next month.
Nielsen was responsible for TV monitoring ratings in Hong Kong for over 20 years, but CSM took over that contract in 2006. TV monitoring has been sponsored mainly by TVB and ATV for many years, each paid 42 per cent of the fees involved, while HK4As chipped in the remaining 15 per cent of the fees (a small sum was also contributed by pay-TV broadcasters i-Cable and NowTV).
However in December 2010, ATV discontinued its involvement in the TV rating partnership. Instead it has hired Robert Chung Ting Yiu, director, public opinion programme of the University of Hong Kong to do its TV monitoring. The university research is based on an audience viewing index gathered from a telephone-based survey, covering the TV audience reach only.
TVB is now paying 85 percent of the fees for its TV rating monitoring survey.
Marketers on the client side have showed concern that media agencies will only get TVB rating data, and not ATV data in Hong Kong. “For industry this is unfair competition, media agencies can only do planning according to the rating on TVB, the results will not be fair,” one source cited. “With limited information in TV monitoring rating for clients, at the end of the day, the advertisers will suffer.”
Ray Wong, CEO of PHD Hong Kong, and HK4As' convener (who is representing the HK4As in the audience measurement contract negotiations) says ATV felt its ratings had been measured unnaturally low and had challenged the methadology of the CSM Media Research. "But we have been using globally recognised ‘people meter’ measurement monitoring," he said.
"TVB will not run ATV data, since they did not pay. Cients would need to put pressure on ATV (if they are looking for a return to comparable ratings)."
Vincent Lam, managing director of CSM Media Research Hong Kong, says that the new tender request asks for ATV ratings to include programme-specific figures, as well as quarter-hour numbers. Minute-by-minute ratings will not be required.
Currently, the figures that ATV provide represent the total audience numbers, and is not broken down for audiences watching specific ads.
Lam says this will impact agencies and clients looking to do post-buying analysis of their television ads.