Media buyers split on move away from daily overnights

Last week, Seven West Media MD and CEO, James Warburton made the case to ditch overnight TV ratings, however it seems for now, media buyers remain torn over the value of the current rating system.

Speaking on the ABC’s Saturday Extra this weekend, Warburton said we are seeing “dramatic changes in the way we’re viewing things”, that screen time is “booming”, and when looking at the total TV ecosystem, it is “aggregating up to some incredibly staggering numbers”.

Warburton has been vocal about a move away from daily reporting over the last week

Warburton continued, when you “measure it correctly”, you can see television is incredibly effective, and is growing.

CEO of Publicis Groupe agency Zenith, Nickie Scriven told Mumbrella: “I tend to agree with James. I think overnights are not the whole picture. I think the industry very quickly needs to move to a complete view of programming, and I think a seven-day period provides a better view.”

While Scriven also said the industry “needs to evolve”, she said it probably wouldn’t move away from overnights, but it needs to look at a combination with seven-day viewing, “because ultimately our clients are looking for reach on content, and we need the bigger picture”.

“We want to see what catch-up TV and on-demand is doing, because that’s actually the way people consume media. So yeah, I am inclined to agree with James.”

Warburton continued on Saturday Extra that 77% of all media being consumed across seven days at home is via free to air providers, as he argued: “we haven’t told our story well…we’ve been complacent for 22 years.”

“We’ve had the absolute world’s best practice, but we’ve only been measuring the television on the wall.”

Scriven: Turning off the tap would be ‘challenging’

Chief strategy officer at Mediabrands’ Initiative, Chris Colter told Mumbrella his personal belief is overnights are still important. “I get that in a modern screen agnostic and on-demand culture evaluating the quality of programs on singular night ratings is an archaic way to view the world.”

“But,” he added, “there is still value in knowing how many people watched a program at the exact same time. Brand building works best when impacting the collective conscience and the more people exposed at the same time enhances this.”

Colter went on to say the ratings system continues to be really helpful when looking to validate or account for the impact of media moments, “like when we turned 60 Minutes into 55 with CGUs Tall Poppy film”.

“You have a lot of stakeholders the day after seeking reassurance that the bold bet was worth it.”

Colter said there is still value in the ratings system

With a more simple assessment, Spinach general manager, Ben Willee said he understands the rationale behind moving away from overnights.

“There is a danger though,” he added. “There is only one thing worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.”

Scriven said with the industry being so used to seeing the dailies come through, “if we turn that tap off, it would be challenging”.

“It gives an indication on what clients are looking for, like if they’re sponsoring a headline program, and would want to know what it’s doing.”

Willee: ‘There is one thing worse than being talked about’

Scriven also agreed with Warburton that people are not viewing TV on an appointment basis as they used to. “They’re viewing what they want, when they want, on whatever device they want, and we need the complete picture.”

Colter finished by adding the agency works with a lot of retailers that have time-sensitive deals, and for that, you want to know as many as people saw that offer vs waiting for cume to only find it didn’t connect”.

“Overnight ratings remain critical for in-flight optimisation.”

Scriven also concluded whatever happens, media agencies would continue to hold the TV networks to account, and to ensure the numbers are delivered at the price they are asking buyers to pay.


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