Italian satellite channels get own ratings
Italians satellite TV channels will soon have their own audience ratings thanks to third generation meters to be installed in more than 5,000 sample households by spring 2002.
Current estimates show that 2 million – or around 10 per cent – of Italy’s 21 million households have access to satellite TV channels, the penetration rate having increased from a mere 2 per cent in 1996. Significantly, the major supporters of the new measurement systems are the leading terrestrial broadcasters RAI and Mediaset, who are aware that satellite TV channels are gradually chipping away at their audience shares and keen to know how serious the threat is. They are also keen to know the audience figures for their own FTA and DTH pay-TV channels.
Others backing the project include such content providers as Gambero Rosso and Salute Benessere, who transmit their offers on digital platforms and are in desperate need of precise data to attract investment. Tele+ and Stream, on the other hand, are reluctant to take part as the data may be disappointing and at the same time require substantial financial resources. Indeed, the current Auditel system for terrestrial TV audience figures costs E9 million a year and is mostly financed by RAI and Mediaset.
According to Auditel director Walter Pancini, audience data for satellite TV channels will be published separately to that for terrestrial channels so that the advertising market and journalists “do not become tempted to make untimely comparisons”. Although audience figures for satellite and terrestrial channels are certainly not comparable, an even greater gulf exists between them in such areas as ad revenue. While precise data is not available, the weekly Pubblicita Italia estimates the value of advertising on satellite TV channels to be E103 million – with Tele+ accounting for nearly half and Eurosport and Stream E10 million and E8 million respectively – compared to E5.1 billion for terrestrial channels.
The new technology should nevertheless pave the way for expansion in the advertising market. According to Felice Lioy, the director general of the Association of Advertisers (UPA), satellite TV will have an advantage in that it will offer advertisers a precise target audience.