Unauthorised platforms like Dish TV eat into the share of legitimate Middle East channels broadcasting on approved platforms, thereby undermining their programming and commercial activity. Its a serious issue that broadcasters, advertisers and governments need to address jointly Whats not supposed to be on TV? Im not talking about pornography or programming; Im talking about […]
Unauthorised platforms like Dish TV eat into the share of legitimate Middle East channels broadcasting on approved platforms, thereby undermining their programming and commercial activity. Its a serious issue that broadcasters, advertisers and governments need to address jointly
Whats not supposed to be on TV?
Im not talking about pornography or programming; Im talking about the other P word, piracy. There is
ongoing debate about how big the problem is and we think weve come up with an answer.
When we talk about piracy, we usually mean Dish TV, the satellite platform which carries Indian programming, Indian channels and Indian advertising but, which is hugely popular in the Gulf, where we can see their signal.
Actually, those people watching Dish TV have paid for subscription cards, boxes and installations, so it could be argued, it isnt piracy as such. Nevertheless, it takes away from the legitimate Middle East channels broadcasting on approved platforms, undermining their programming and commercial activity. So, call it what you like but it has a similar effect to music piracy or counterfeit goods.
The question is how big is the Dish TV problem?
One of the issues for tview as a ratings measurement system is the huge diversity of channels in the region. Even the legitimate platforms carry around 800 channels, and the vast majority of those pick up tiny amounts of viewing.
We fully monitor only 62 channels with another 20 on a lower level of data capture and they usually capture between 40% and 60% of viewing at any given time. In most other markets, the audience for the top 80 channels would probably capture 80% or more of the audience. In some markets, just five or six channels can capture a large majority of viewing. Not here.
Now some of that lost viewing is the other 700+ channels, each one taking a small share. But some of it is also the Dish TV viewing. In our system it all shows up as Other viewing.
By looking at the total minutes consumed over a month weve tried to put a figure on how much is legitimately Other viewing and how much is illegitimately Dish TV.
Our sample panel (see Table 1) includes homes with Dish TV over 100 of them. Most of them have Dish TV only, which means they have no local broadcast package, although some of them have Dish TV in addition to a local cable or satellite.
For the purposes of calculation, were going to assume that all viewing of Other channels (not in our 82 reference channels) by Dish TV households is actually Dish TV viewing.
While it is possible, a Dish TV household with satellite is viewing a non-referenced channel like Saudi TV, for example, were assuming it is unlikely. And if this potentially overstates Dish viewing we would argue that actually the number on the panel is probably understated in comparison to the population, because people with illegal platforms are less likely to agree to join a ratings panel, so this would counterbalance the effect.
When we look at viewing by Dish TV households, we get the following percentages of the total viewing in each category: (see Table 3).
So, of the 19,795 minutes of Other viewing in Table 1, nearly half of it was from Dish TV households 9,161 minutes to be exact and we can exclude those minutes from the total viewing to arrive at a new figure of total viewing for Middle East channels.
It brings the total down by 28.5% from 32,139 to 22,978 minutes viewed and gives us a new set of percentages.
So the good news for ratings measurement is that the 82 monitored and referenced channels actually capture about 54% of the possible viewing, and we hope to increase that in the future.
But the significant figure there is 28.5% of total viewing going to Dish TV. That is the size and I would say, it is only a conservative estimate of the problem here. It shows the proportion of viewing, which is leaking outside the UAEs approved channels.
Its an issue for broadcasters, advertisers and, of course, the government to think about. Why is it that a large portion of the population here is simply not being exposed to the proper channels of communication?
It is a menace that impacts not only the commercials but also the community.
Christopher OHearn is GM of Emirates Media Measurement Company, which has rolled out tview, the UAEs television ratings and audience measurement system and the first in the Middle East.