DStv has suspended with immediate effect its expanded viewer panel to measure television viewing in High Definition (HD) subscriber homes. The decision became effective on 14 May and will be reviewed at a later date.
The South African Audience Research Foundation recently commissioned an audit, done by French company CESP, to investigate the processes and procedures used in South Africa. Nielsen Media Research is responsible for audience measurement, and is under contract to Saarf.
The audit found areas where corrective action needed to be taken and identified factors that could possibly have affected the statistical efficiency of the TAMS panel., which included the implementation of the boosted HD-PVR panel.
In a statement issued by Saarf, DStv says it “does not believe the panel boost affected the statistical efficiency of the information, and has an independent audit report to support this, it fully supports all initiatives to improve the accuracy and reliability of audience measurement in South Africa”.
The boost added 170 HD-PVR homes to the 30 or so existing homes in the TAMS panel, but DStv says the increase was corrected by weighting. It says while the expanded panel remains suspended, naturally occurring HD homes will remain in the database, but the sample size will be far reduced.
It says it is “common practice internationally to boost TAMS panels where audience samples are too small to provide meaningful data to broadcasters and advertisers and the HD panel boost was necessary because, as HD viewership grew and the number of HD channels expanded, the number of naturally occurring HD subscriber homes in the TAMS sample was insufficient to provide meaningful data.”
DStv has suspended the expanded panel for three months. so as to remove the panel boost as a possible issue in current audience measurement, and will enable an assessment of any potential impact after three months.
The TAMS panel will be increased from 1 700 households to approximately 3 000 households over the next few months. Saarf says this will “eliminate many of the current shortcomings, ensure greater accuracy in audience measurement and provide broadcasters and advertisers with the reliable numbers that they need”.