While using the return channel for audience measurement is nothing new in Poland, the whole issue of data collection presents a variety of challenges for cable operators across Central and Eastern Europe.
Speaking in a meeting of Eastern and Western European cable operators ahead of the start of the 45th International Conference and Exhibition PIKE 2018 in Lodz, Dariusz Gumbrycht from AGB Nielsen Media Research outlined the pros and cons of Nielsen Panels and Return Path Data (RPD) and how the two could be combined to give the best of both worlds.
He also said that Poland had been the first country chosen by Nielsen for RPD in 2008. Since then, it had been introduced in the US, along with China, Taiwan, Singapore and Turkey.
During the discussion participants from a number of Central and Eastern European countries provided a brief outline of how cable operators see audience measurement in their respective markets.
In Ukraine, Nielsen has been present for several years but was recently joined by a new company named Big Data UA. Figures it produced for the country’s three largest cable operators in May and September contradicted those from Nielsen. However, it should be noted that unlike Poland, underreporting is commonplace in Ukraine.
In Russia, on the other hand, media measurement has to some degree been politicised, with only Russian-owned companies allowed to collect data. The process is not independent and makes it impossible to produce figures for thematic channels. In Lithuania, large operators do their own research for thematic and other channels, though local channels are not measured. There is no market solidarity and everyone is effectively “doing their own thing”.
Meanwhile, in the Czech Republic IPTV plays an important part in producing data. In Belarus, the incumbent Beltelecom collects a huge amount of data and then uses it to negotiate with TV channels.
For its part, the Polish market is on the verge of huge change in the area of audience research. Driven by the National Broadcasting Council (KRRiT), it will see a new body encompassing several interested parties formed later this year to take things forward in 2019.