“Seven and Ten flout rules for new digital audience reporting to claim inflated numbers”

Ten has today tried to boost its audience by including the new catch-up numbers.

The Seven and Ten Networks have flouted specific OzTAM guidelines to inflate their audience figures for major franchises such as Molly, My Kitchen Rules and The X-Files by including new cross-device measurement numbers, which only went live for the first time this morning.

TV measurement body OzTAM specifically warned broadcasters not to add the regular TV viewing numbers and the new video player measurement figures – which measures streaming and catch-up TV on devices – as it launched the long-awaited online metric today  stating: “The two are derived through different methodologies so they cannot be added.”

Seven’s literature promoting a combined number today.

Today Ten touted a 39% boost in the audience of The X-Files when time-shifted and VPM viewing was combined, while Seven did a similar thing for flagship shows Molly and My Kitchen Rules. Nine was the only FTA network not to combine the VPM and TV data.

OzTAM guidelines explain why there are a number of flaws in adding together VPM and TV audience data, not least that TV ratings measure people while the new VPM ratings measure only devices, and the fact that the VPM rating is a national figure with no adverts shown during the broadcasts counted in the timings.

In it’s explainer notes OzTAM stresses: “it’s not like-for-like”.

Source: Oztam VPM Guidelines.

Despite these guidelines a spokesman for Ten denied there was a problem in what the network had done, claiming its customers were “sophisticated” and able to recognise that today’s release was only stage one and that the Oztam VPM product would continue to evolve.

“Like some other networks today, we are presenting information on the total audience and reach of our programs, information that advertisers and agencies have been seeking for some time now,” said the Ten spokesman.

“We are confident that our customers are sophisticated enough to understand that this is Stage One of changes to the OzTAM system, which will continue to evolve.”

However, a spokeswoman for OzTAM acknowledged both networks were in breach of the rules and said the agency would “reinforce” the rules with them.

“The VPM Report is a new service and people are still getting up to speed with it,” said an OzTAM spokeswoman, acknowledging that the TV Networks had broken the rules.

“OzTAM will reinforce this with the broadcasters. Again, it’s only day one.”

Seven declined to comment, but it is understood that it will not use the combined TV and VPM numbers from tomorrow.

Nic Christensen

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