Viewership intensity: Separating casual from loyal TV fans

AT&T U-Verse

Jeff Weber

Content distributors and advertisers are using data that measure viewership intensity to determine who is watching TV programs, when, how and just how much those viewers care about the programming. That could change the way advertising is purchased.

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal about rights fees for TV sports programming described viewership intensity as a way for cable providers to evaluate whether they were paying the right amount to carry a cable channel.

What is viewership intensity? Cubs and Red Sox fans have remained faithful TV watchers, despite decades of heartbreaks. Nebraskans tune into Cornhusker football games everywhere, even through  mall PA systems. Miami Heat fans flocked to Fox Sports Florida, giving some games during the 2012-2013 season higher local ratings than network TV shows.

AT&T uses set-top box data to measure just how long and how often people watch shows. At the Nomura Global Media Summit, Jeff Weber, president of content and advertising sales for AT&T, said that his company measures a channel’s value based on viewership intensity.

“It gives us much greater insight in terms of the value of a particular channel or piece of content, and we’ve been able to get real clarity on whether we should pay that rate, whether we should ask for a lower rate, whether it’s something that we have to carry — it works both ways,” Weber was quoted as saying by MediaPost. “It’s been very beneficial for us in terms of the decisions we’ve made.”

The same logic applies for advertisers. If viewership intensity is low, then ad dollars are wasted based on the number of channel subscribers or ratings. Likewise, if intensity is high, then the buy is a good value, even if the price is above-market based on traditional measures.


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