Mark Frain says OzTAM doesn't record Foxtel viewer data accurately

Jason Pollock
By Jason Pollock | 7 March 2024
Mark Frain.

Around 40% of Foxtel's viewer data registers as zero under OzTAM's measurement system, according to Foxtel Media CEO Mark Frain.

He told the Future of TV Advertising conference in Sydney that the industry should be getting better technology-wise.

"Which is why we've gone ‘we can't leave our own set top box data idling any longer, it's got a massive role to play for the value in this industry’.

Foxtel Media last year selected Kantar Media to deliver a new audience measurement service to capture viewing data from across Foxtel services.

This is separate to the VOZ measurement system used by the rest of the TV industry. At the time of the announcement, OzTAM hit back by saying that introducing an alternate currency "poses the risk of confusion in the market".

"With our measurement system, every spot is counted and the audience attributed to all of those channels," Frain said at the event.

"There's audiences watching every daypart in every channel and over a million set top boxes reaching just under two and a half million people."

An OzTAM spokesperson told AdNews that the occurrence of “zero” audience estimates in panel measurement is a known issue in a fragmenting media landscape, especially for niche channels with relatively smaller audiences.

"It is exacerbated in smaller markets and at off-peak viewing times," said the spokesperson.

"To help address such incidences, OzTAM has been encouraging Foxtel to share its set top box data with us, so that we can combine the data with OzTAM panel data. This practice is commonplace for measurement services in other markets, including BARB in the UK and the US Nielsen One service, significantly reducing and in many cases eliminating zero ratings.

"In addition, we have invested heavily in scaling the OzTAM panel to have one of the largest panels per capita in the world."

Beyond advertising is where the power of alternative currencies can become "really powerful" on a broader scale, said Frain.

With increased discussion across the industry about the growth of women's sport off the back of the success of last year's 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup, Frain said that Foxtel's set top box data shows a revised number of AFLW viewing up 24% and NRLW viewing up 52% on what was reported under the current metrics and measurement system.

"Women's sports biggest challenge is lobbying government for funding, lobbying local communities and councils, and lobbying corporate Australia to spend more be a partner on their brands. We just improved their story by 50%. Their pitch to the government is 50% better than it was yesterday," he said.

"That's way more than just a deal for advertisers."

Looking at Foxtel's 'magazine shows', Frain revealed that the direct set top box data shows NFL 360 viewers are up 49% and AFL tonight up 153%, with other shows such as True Detective (+48%), Strife (+109%) and Love It or List It (+40%) also seeing strong gains.

"We might make decisions [based on this data] on some of these shows not to produce them next year or to produce more of them, because clearly the audiences are engaged with them," Frain said.

Frain said that you have to let the data provide the insights on what's deeper and richer for the industry.

"Multi metrics are not new - media agencies deal with multiple currencies and datasets all day long," he told the crowd at the event.

"What we're doing with the set top box data gives us the opportunity in the future to match that with attention data, to match that with return on investment data."

He gave the example of a US-based company called Data Fuel X, who built a platform that plugs into all the agency groups.

"You can pick which currency you're trading - Nielsen One, VideoAmp, iSpot, Comscore - you get to pick one that's got the most depth for your client. That's not something that's coming - it exists in the US," he said.

"I'm not saying that's going to happen here, because I don't think the Australian marketplace has got the scale for four currencies, but it's certainly got the scale for alternative currencies.

"This is not about OzTAM versus Kantar. It’s about bringing global best practice to this market and we think there's an opportunity for everyone to share in that value."

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