“Generally whenever we look at any programme analysis we look at the whole programme and not just those things in isolation. The reason we say that is because we can’t actually buy that particular part of the programme.
“When we buy into The Block you’re buying into the whole show unless you’re a sponsor in which case you get some control over placement.
“There’s usually a flat rate across the entire show but potentially the networks could look at selling The Winner Announced as a separate opportunity. It tends to be the sponsors who get the preferred placement.”
He sees the practice as a marketing ploy rather than being a strategy driven by clients.
“Each of the networks are obviously looking for ways to create headlines that can get their story across in terms of how they are performing,” he says.
OzTAM CEO Doug Peiffer told TV Tonight they currently log programmes as they are submitted by networks, but was aware of industry concerns about coding shows separately.
“Obviously there has been some movement in the amount of this occurring,” he said.
“From our point of view it’s something we should look at if the industry is having issues with it. The data is still accurate if you do minute-by-minute, and if you do time-based analysis such as 6-7 or 8-9. But it is adding a level of complexity in terms of people using the data.
“It’s causing a little angst with some of our data users.”
Last week TEN began coding its 90 minute News as two titles, one as 5-6pm and another as 6-6:30pm. TEN News at Five averaged 610,000 viewers while TEN News at Six averaged 339,000 viewers. A week earlier at 90 minutes the average was 548,000.
One Programming source told TV Tonight their “hand would be forced” if competitors made a regular habit of coding segments of shows separately.
Peiffer recalls, “I remember somebody once coded the Lottery break which came up as a 5 minute programme. So at that point people started saying ‘Let’s run the top programmes based on anything more than 5 minutes.’
“Now we’re getting to programmes that are 7, 8, 15, 20 minutes and it’s harder to do. People are trying to see how a franchise performed, such as MasterChef, or MasterChef on Friday. I don’t have a problem with having that second layer because that programme is a little but different. But when we start chopping it up into smaller amounts then it gets to be an issue because there’s no consistency.
“I don’t think we want to start chopping the News down into quarter half hours.”
OzTAM is in early discussions with industry over the coding issue, concerned it may be causing confusion.
“We take the logs as given to us and we take all of the responses from our clients and we’ll table them at an industry forum and try to work out a solution. That could be either coming up with some rules on how to code the programmes or do it ourselves –but that adds another layer of cost because we’ve got to employ people to sit down and do it.
“For us it’s really about the industry and how they use that data that will dictate how we fall on this. They will apply pressure to the networks and us as well and we will have a robust discussion on it.
“It’s just about getting all the providers of programme names to be sensible.
“People are raising it, media buyers, people inside Programming, and the ones who are really raising it are the users –the ones who run the software who try to come up with a sensible average for a programme, and they’re the ones who seem to be doing the hard leg-work trying to put it back together.
“So we’ll discuss it and see if we can come with an industry agreement on it.”
Corones says networks need to start being more realistic so that media agencies know exactly what they’re buying into.
“I don’t think it’s ideal. In the long run you want to be looking at how a show is rating overall and networks breaking it into these special windows aren’t really doing themselves any favours,” he says.
“When they look at each other’s ratings they’re all probably rolling their eyes at one another but not prepared to back down.”