Ratings Lego: a report from the second asi APAC Television & Video Conference in Singapore


In the past, the research industry in the region may have looked primarily to the west, but the second asi APAC Television & Video Conference confirmed that, with the dizzying pace of technology adoption in the region, the exchange of information is now much more of a two-way discussion.

The APAC region is projected to account for two-thirds of the world’s affluent middle class by 2030, so understanding exactly how video is being used in the region, and how that changes over time will be vital for the global future of broadcasters and online players.

Measurement has never been a dry topic and, with the explosion of new services and platforms, it has never been more vital. Reliable measurement is essential to allow video services to be monetised – to attract advertising and help understand what content drives subscription to OTT services.

The event was held in Singapore and sponsored by GFK and Nielsen with the support of CASBAA. The focus was on TV measurement in the APAC region but also at a global level, so worked as a useful ‘health check’ on the state of TV and video measurement around the world.

A major theme was the increasing globalisation of content and formats.

Eurodata Worldwide presented global trends in content viewing, showing the increasing demand for drama as a genre and the rise of new formats – 900 new TV shows were launched in Asia in 2015. In the so-called ‘Platinum Age’ of television there is a global demand for new content and formats. At a global level the top exporters of TV in 2016 were US and UK, but French (3rd) and Turkish (5th) programming and formats are also on the rise.

Parrot Analytics went beyond TV viewing in a paper presented with the BBC to look at how the global demand for programming can be measured by looking at the ‘ocean’ of social media and online activity around content.

We heard that in January 2016 Sherlock was the most in-demand programme in China and social buzz identified an untapped market for Doctor Who in Korea. So the future may be about evaluating ‘share of mind’ as well as counting eyeballs.

Looking specifically at online video, we saw data from Korea that claimed that ad recall and impact was higher for VOD than linear advertising, whilst Facebook examined what makes ‘thumb-stopping’ online video and in particular the importance of the first few seconds of a video to capture interest and brand awareness.


Google’s Georges Mao, Director of Market Insights APAC, outlines the company’s strategy for brand measurement.

Google outlined its strategy for brand measurement, which seems to indicate a higher willingness to collaborate with industry measurement services, whilst building its own data systems to sit alongside.

Meanwhile a fascinating paper looked at Australian TV data to demonstrate that classifying a segment of the population as ‘light viewers’ can be misleading – light viewers can be heavy on some days and when their online and non-linear viewing is added in many cease to be ‘light viewers’ at all.

So filling the ‘holes’ in measurement is essential, and was another key theme of the conference. The event underlined the rise of hybrid measurement, but also reflected an understanding that ‘one size does not fit all’.

There are a number of hybrid TV and video measurement systems in development around the world: everyone seems to be playing ratings ‘lego’. Nearly all the systems under development that we heard about at the conference are effectively ‘hybrid’ systems – integrating TV panels, online panels and census (or server) data to build TV measurement across platforms and screens. (Click here for the review of these systems I presented at the conference – click here for the audio.)

In that context BARB is using a broad approach that is being introduced in a number of countries, which should be reassuring to us in the UK. However the methodologies being used do vary and the pace of progress in implementation varies even more.

Nielsen’s system in the US looks the closest to completion, with broadcasters currently trialling data from a hybrid panel that combines TV meters online panels and demographic data from Facebook.

Meanwhile the systems in Netherlands and Sweden are well advanced and may actually prove more of a template for measurement in the APAC region – and around the world – than the US and UK systems.

Although people still lament that the BARB panel is ‘only’ 5,000 homes, in global terms this does place it as something of an outlier. Most countries typically have TV panels of 800-2,000 homes. As a result these are not proving large enough to provide an estimate of online viewing and that data will need to be sourced from separate internet panels, which is the model that the Dutch and Swedish systems are following. Also both are at a more advanced stage of development than the UK.


Romil Ramgarhia, Chief Business Officer of BARC India, indicated to conference the collaborative approach BARC is adopting.

BARC in India is in the process of awarding contracts for digital video measurement in an ambitious system that will encompass all forms of online video and advertising, not just broadcast-related, to go live next year. Meanwhile new television measurement systems are under construction in Thailand and Singapore.

Nonetheless, as of writing, not one country in the region or indeed anywhere in the world can claim to be conducting currency measurement of all broadcast and online video content and advertising across all platforms and devices. We are tantalisingly close though.

It is also significant that these services describe themselves as ‘video’ rather than just ‘TV’ measurement systems. For these hybrid systems to evolve, collaboration is needed. In particular television companies are going to have to be less defensive and resistant to the involvement of the major digital players – access to their datasets will be increasingly important for the hybrid systems to work. Will BARB ever be able to adequately measure all video content in the UK without the active involvement of Facebook and Google?

There was some debate in the various panel sessions about what the optimum organisational models for measuring video actually were. There seems to be a general consensus that the JIC (Joint Industry Committee) model is the best means for building an open system and engaging with stakeholders. However, can decision-making by ‘committee’ act as a handbrake on rapid change and innovation? Again, are broadcasters doing enough to reach out to new media companies like Facebook, YouTube and Netflix?

The asi APAC conference demonstrated that the barriers between the worlds of broadcast and video are coming down. For younger consumers the genealogy of a media brand is largely irrelevant: it’s what they do now that matters and APAC is a particularly young region in terms of its age profile.

In some regards a trip to Asia is a trip into the future of media consumption, a future in which mobile plays an increasing role, with an even playing field for all forms of video.

The conference was generously sponsored by GfK and Nielsen, and was supported by CASBAA.

asi will be back in Singapore next year on 11th-12th May 2017 but in the meantime returns to Europe later this year for the three day International Radio Conference on 2nd November, and the International Television & Video Conference on 2nd-3rd November in Budapest, Hungary.