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‘Forget what our rivals might claim’: Networks squabble over top BVOD spot

TV networks Nine and Seven are at loggerheads over how to correctly report the performance of their respective broadcast video on demand (BVOD) platforms, both claiming 2020 dominance based on different data sets.

Seven has labelled Nine’s refusal to report co-viewing figures “misleading”. But Nine maintains its numbers are the fairest since co-viewing was only added to OzTAM’s video player measurement (VPM) report last September, precluding year-on-year comparisons and meaning it was not the metric agencies used to buy BVOD ad spots. TV measurement company, OzTAM, meanwhile, says it won’t play umpire.

According to the figures Nine relies upon, excluding co-viewing, 9Now had a 41.8% share of the 20.6 billion minutes watched on commercial free-to-air BVOD platforms in 2020, ahead of 7plus’ 41.3% and 10 Play’s 16.9%.

Seven won the battle for video on demand (VOD) minutes, with a 41.8% share, while Nine topped the share of live minutes, landing on 45.8%. Foxtel also claimed the BVOD crown, saying its Go and Now apps had 37% of minutes viewed last year excluding co-viewing.

Co-viewing figures record more than one (and up to three) people watching on a connected TV, with the model drawing upon a number of data sets, including a ‘primary viewer’s’ profile, to estimate how many people are watching. It’s unclear how the model makes this estimation from program-to-program.

Source: Nine. Click to enlarge

Source: Nine. Click to enlarge

Source: Nine. Click to enlarge

Seven used the four-month-old co-viewing metric to report its 2020 results, which offered up very different figures to that of Nine. OzTAM confirmed that while its VPM reports only include co-viewing data from September onwards, participating broadcasters have access to co-viewing data backdated to the start of 2020.

Using co-viewing figures, 7plus was the top commercial BVOD platform last year, with a 41.9% share of total free-to-air BVOD viewership, narrowly ahead of 9Now’s 41.1% and well ahead of 10 Play’s 17%.

In on-demand viewership (including co-viewing), 7Plus had a 42.5% share, against 9Now’s 39.4% and 10 Play’s 18.1%.

Given the timing of co-viewing’s introduction (ahead of the impending launch of new measurement platform, VOZ), there is no ability to offer year-on-year analysis. According to a number of sources, co-viewing data is also not yet used to sell BVOD advertising, a market worth around $250 million per year.

Seven’s Gereurd Roberts

“The BVOD market’s reporting in 2020 was certainly mired by some misleading claims,” said Seven’s chief digital officer, Gereurd Roberts.

“Forget what our rivals might claim: the official, industry-standard OzTAM data clearly shows that 7plus was #1 in 2020.”

Roberts added that he hopes to “see an improvement in the understanding of BVOD reporting from the industry and media” this year.

“To exclude co-viewing data from BVOD figures, as has been done by some of our competitors, is like excluding Melbourne or Sydney from FTA broadcast ratings,” he continued.

“It arbitrarily removes viewers from the figures and runs the risk of putting off advertisers by unfairly presenting BVOD as confusing or unreliable. Since OzTAM introduced co-viewing data last year, they have been very clear that it is the golden standard when talking about when talking BVOD.”

But according to OzTAM, there is no ‘golden standard’. OzTAM told Mumbrella that “subscribers can use the full array of OzTAM VPM data for their respective analysis and reporting purposes”.

“Provided OzTAM data is accurately handled, labelled and sourced, OzTAM does not express a view on which parameters are used,” a spokesperson said.

“It’s up to data users to interpret OzTAM data and determine how best to use it in their own analyses.”

Think TV promotes co-viewing as an “invaluable metric given almost 50% of BVOD consumption takes place on the big screen at home, and 95% of that occurs with up to three people watching together”.

But Nine said it will only move to reporting on co-viewing figures once VOZ has launched, and reinforced its view of BVOD dominance based on the figures which exclude co-viewing.

“In 2020 Nine remained the leader in the BVOD market – we have the largest unique audience and the largest signed in BVOD user ecosystem against the demos that matter,” Hamish Turner, Nine’s program director, said.

“We use the BVOD metric that we traded on in 2020, once VOZ launches the industry will obviously move to the co-viewing metric.”

The lack of a standard metric indicates just how muddied the BVOD waters are.

Foxtel saw a peak of 41% of all minutes viewed in December over the holiday period. Foxtel’s figures, however do not include its streaming service, Binge, or sports streaming offering, Kayo.

Foxtel’s offering is also different to that of free-to-air networks’ BVOD services, given Foxtel is a subscription service, and viewers can watch free-to-air content on linear TV.

Data from Roy Morgan showed that Foxtel had 7.75 million viewers on either Foxtel, Foxtel Now, Kayo Sports or Binge in an average four weeks in 2020.  This is an increase of 2.36 million viewers when compared to 2019 viewership figures (+43.9%).

Source: Foxtel Media. Click to enlarge

Source: Foxtel Media. Click to enlarge

“TV has had a standout year, and it is encouraging to see all networks delivering significant growth across broadcast video on demand,” Foxtel’s executive director of agency sales, Nev Hasan, said.

“It is equally important that clients and agencies have the full picture across total television when it comes to dominance and what marketers can rely on.

“The unparalleled quality of the Foxtel Group’s content has led to our overwhelming market share in advertising-supported BVOD in Australia – with Foxtel Go/Now dominating other commercial providers.”

According to Nielsen’s Digital Content Ratings (DCR), 9Now had a unique audience of 3.73 million, 7Plus 1.83 million, and 10 Play 883,340. The DCR only measures participating publishers, and does not include connected TV viewing.

In comparison to the 20.6 billion minutes people spent watching commercial FTA BVOD content last year, Australians spent 339.3 billion minutes – or 5.65 billion hours – watching YouTube in 2020 (excluding connected TV viewing), according to Nielsen data.

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