NEWS2 March 2012

GfK’s Portuguese TV ratings system gets off to rocky start

Europe New business

PORTUGAL— A new TV audience measurement service was launched in Portugal this week, two months later than expected, but the GfK-run system has already met with criticism from two TV networks who fear that their audiences are being undercounted.

The newspaper Diario Economico reports concerns that TVI could lose its primetime position while rival broadcaster RTP might see its market share shrink by 7%.

RTP is said to have commissioned its own independent study to analyse the results of the new measurement system. It claims to have discovered that during a recent televised football match between Guimarãs and Benfica there was a 20-minute spell where the system picked up no viewers whatsoever.

GfK could not be reached for comment. Its MD in Portugal Antonio Salvador disputed the claims in an interview with Diario Economico. “Not all is well,” he said. “But not all is bad either.”

The company was handed the TV measurement contract by industry body CAEM last March, replacing Marktest Audimetria. In response, Marktest filed a complaint with the Portuguese competition authority against the decision but this appeal was rejected.

However, with the implementation of the GfK system running behind due to the need for last-minute tweaks, Marktest was asked to continue compiling ratings on a monthly basis for January and February.

When it looked like this situation might roll over into a third month, CAEM was sent a letter by Marktest Audimetria’s technology supplier and major shareholder Kantar Media proposing that they be given the work on a full-time basis, with an initial two-year contract.

In the letter dated 28 February, Kantar Media’s chairman Andy Brown said: “Should the industry decide to wait for GfK to go live then we will shut down the current Audimetria service in the near future… Marktest Audimetria cannot possibly commit anymore on such a short extension duration contract.”

The GfK system went live yesterday. It uses the Universal Meter System (UMS), which combines different measurement technologies in a central measuring system. “The core element is the fixed meter UMX, which records the full range of media usage on a household’s TV,” explains GfK on its website. “By integrating the portable Mediawatch meter, which is worn by the panel member and records individual radio, TV and print consumption, GfK is able to record media consumption both in and outside the home. The USX internet meter measures media usage on a computer and general internet use via a USB stick. Furthermore, through an additional device, GfK can record channel information, as well as information on time delay TV or video on demand.”