A Call to Action for the International Media Research Industry
As a platform, TV is evolving. The days of household video consumption happening on one TV set in the living room are behind us. Today, viewers can watch television anytime, anywhere.
As an art form, TV is thriving. With a seemingly endless library of top-notch content available, the constraint of time is more of an issue for viewers than finding great programming to watch.
In TV’s transformation, there is opportunity. As content moves into the non-linear realm, there is great potential to expand our reach and deepen our engagement with consumers. However, to unlock that potential, distributors, content companies and the wider industry must work together.
As set out recently by our President, Bob Bakish, here is how we at Viacom International Media Networks propose that the industry embrace this opportunity:
Feed the “super consumers” to preserve the value of our content. Viewers have redefined TV to mean “content on their own terms.” As such, we need to make programming readily available to them. Consumers turn to piracy when they can’t find what they want. If we don’t act to keep our customers satisfied, we don’t just risk losing viewers. The value of our content is at risk if consumers seek it out via unauthorized sources.
Use technology and innovation to unlock growth. With the array of devices and sources available, there are limitless ways to offer consumers new entertainment experiences. It is crucial that we provide not just more product, but more unique product. Further to this, over-the-top services transcend geography and can help content travel to any corner of the planet.
If these opportunities are to have any chance of taking hold, we must address the subject of measurement. At the “asi European Radio and TV Symposium” last week, I put forth our call to arms to the international media measurement industry:
Make multiplatform measurement a reality. TV delivered through online sources is either inadequately measured or not measured at all. That lack of full measurement is leakage—a lost commercial opportunity for content owners. This is not only a risk to our advertising revenue stream, it can result in a reduction of new content in an ecosystem where there is an appetite for more. As such, it is imperative that we get the expanded world measured.
Of course, markets are at varying stages of bringing multiplatform video measurement to life. Many individuals and organizations are working very hard on this. Yet we, as an industry, need to do more, better, faster to avoid the risks that unmeasured viewing presents.
The onus is on all of us to cooperate with industry-wide efforts to update TV measurement systems and develop an effective new trading currency. Census measurement of video consumption, including Return Path Data, is a great source–but it really comes into its own when combined with panel-based measurement to add demographics. ‘Hybrid’ and ‘fusion’ are terms we should all be hearing regularly. More data in more silos cannot be the answer.
The only way to accomplish this is with transparency and true industry-wide collaboration across geographic boundaries. In other words, all of us must work together. Joint Industry Committees across TV, online and radio; measurement companies; distribution platforms; media owners; and advertisers need to align on this common goal.
At Viacom International Media Networks, we currently work with 62 local TV measurement systems run by even more companies. Beyond industry-wide collaboration, it is essential for us to join forces internationally. Even if we don’t get to global measurement solutions as already exist in the online space, we at least need to speak the same language!
The lack of measurement is a significant threat to the media industry. For the media research industry, this is a matter of credibility and a question of survival.
It is upon all of us to create a unified measurement system that better matches the viewing ecosystem and preserves the value of our content. And it is necessary to start down that path immediately so a better currency can emerge.
We are actively collaborating with industry measurement initiatives in many countries and encourage others to as well. If we want to solve for this problem, there is no time to waste. The thinking behind our measurement simply must change, and fast.
If you’d like to join us in this effort, please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.