SBJ/Dec. 4-10, 2017/Opinion

Time for industry to embrace Total Audience Delivery

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We all read every day about how consumer habits are changing, and how viewers are watching programming differently. Our industry has responded by presenting content in new and innovative ways, and across more platforms than ever before.

In order to properly account for consumption in today’s viewing ecosystem, our entire industry needs to move away from reporting just the antiquated linear TV household rating, and move to what we at NBC call Total Audience Delivery, or TAD.

Our total audience approach aggregates all forms of viewership, from linear TV to VOD to our OTT and mobile platforms. Undoubtedly, a viewer of our quality content is a viewer, regardless of when, where, and on what platform they watch.

Nearly all of our programs today are presented at minimum across television and digital simultaneously, with many major events being presented across numerous linear and digital networks. People still watch live in their homes, but they also watch on demand and out of home (OOH). Measurement innovations allow us to track and monetize all of this viewership. This is consistent with our NBCU portfolio approach using audiences as currency.

For illustration purposes, let’s look at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Our NBC primetime show delivered a dominant percent of total audience viewing, but we also saw our simultaneous cable and digital viewership make meaningful contributions to TAD. “Thursday Night Football” needs TAD to accurately measure consumption as it simultaneously airs across a broadcast network and a cable network, and streams on numerous digital platforms. There are many more examples, particularly for major events. But the point is that without this aggregation process, advertisers miss out on an opportunity to fully connect with consumers they seek to reach.

As a result of this evolution, NBC is selling the Olympics for the first time in its history based on a total audience guarantee, not simply the linear household rating. Advertisers who are buying our Pyeongchang primetime presentation are assured that their message will be seen by viewers regardless of whether they’re watching figure skating on NBC, a hockey game on NBCSN, or the biathlon on the NBC Sports app; and whether they’re in their own home or at a friend’s house, watching live or on DVR hours later.

In the past, we have used the household rating as a proxy to estimate consumption of our content. This proxy is no longer valid, and we must now use a total audience measurement to aggregate all viewership across multiple platforms.

If viewers’ habits are changing, so must ours. The days of the household rating as the only meaningful measurement are over.

Dan Lovinger is executive vice president of advertising sales and sales marketing at NBCUniversal Sports Group.

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