Slicing up the TV ‘pie’
Time was when only one group surveyed local TV viewership to determine how one channel or program fared compared to others in terms of the number of viewers it attracted. The results, released as relative “ratings” figures, determined shows’ popularity and guided advertisers in the programs they chose to support with their all-important commercial placements.
These days, the situation has become less clear and more complicated, because there are at least two survey groups providing differing ratings, and more categories or contexts have been put in place, like “Metro Manila” rating vis-à-vis “national” viewership figures.
Why the felt need for more than one TV viewership survey group? TV insiders revealed that a television network wasn’t happy with the lone survey group in place then, because it was rumored to be biased in favor of its competition—hence, the network’s decision to stop patronizing that survey group and to instead support another one. Naturally, its “favored” competitor debunked the charge of bias, but the standoff remains unresolved to this day. The TV people involved have learned to live with the admittedly awkward situation, each network choosing to highlight viewership findings favorable to its shows.
The real losers here are the country’s televiewers, who are now less clear than before about the ratings figures they can more objectively rely on to determine the relative popularity of the programs they view.
One network has more viewers in “Metro Manila” while the other leads “nationwide?”—What do those differing findings mean?
Ratings are relative to the total number of viewers relevant to a definite locale, scope or contextualizing “paradigm,” so it first has to be established if there are more viewers in Metro Manila than outside of it—and laymen are not at all clear on that.
Interested professionals, like advertising people, have worked it out for their own benefit and guidance, but “ordinary” viewers are befuddled by the “divide and mutually conquer” situation at hand, in which both networks can claim their own slices of the total TV viewership “pie.”
Is there any way out of this confusing impasse? Viewers would prefer to abide by only one survey’s findings, but if the networks don’t agree, what persuasive say do we have on the ticklish, prickly subject?
For our personal part, we refuse to be confused and do our best to rise above conflicting or divisive viewership ratings altogether: We watch a program, decide for ourselves if it’s worth viewing on a regular basis or not, and are guided accordingly.
That may not enable us to objectively vet our show’s popularity relative to its competition, but it has to be good enough for us.
Nobody wants to be manipulated, after all, and if you, too, are chafing under the onerous burden of having to make sense out of the differing findings of various TV ratings systems, you, too, could refuse to play by rules not of your own devising—or approval.
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