Time Shift Viewing Will Finally Get Included In Ratings

TV scheduling often seems designed to annoy viewers, and the situation of recording one show to catch later while watching another one live is hardly uncommon. So here’s a “better late than never” development: come December, TV ratings figures in Australia will finally be adjusted to incorporate delayed viewing (known as “time shift” in the trade).

TV Tonight reports that the OzTAM ratings system will start incorporating time shift viewing from December 27. Markets like the UK have used this approach for years — typically ratings are released the next day to cover live viewers, then updated to add time-shift viewing. Exactly how that data is being tracked hasn’t been disclosed yet. I suspect the December timing isn’t a coincidence: post-Christmas is technically out of season for ratings (which don’t officially start until February), meaning any glitches can be ironed out before the figures everyone really cares about start being calculated.

While you might not give a fig about ratings, being able to track audiences more accurately gives networks a better chance of selling advertising, which at the moment is still the primary source of funding of most of what you watch, even if your chosen venue is Channel BT. (Of course, people watching a recording are quite likely to skip the ads, but being able to claim even the proportion of viewers that don’t bother still represents a potential increase.)

With the parallel news this week that the much-maligned Freeview might offer streaming to TV sets, seems like the TV industry is belatedly waking up to the need to respond to new technology.

TimeShifting Viewing in 2010 ratings [TV Tonight]


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