Ian Grant, Research Manager

KVOS Television, VancouverThe biggest gap is a lack of qualitative information.In other words, we spent years head-counting. We know how many males and females are watching certain shows, but we know very little about them. Other media have made strides in...

KVOS Television, Vancouver

The biggest gap is a lack of qualitative information.

In other words, we spent years head-counting. We know how many males and females are watching certain shows, but we know very little about them. Other media have made strides in this direction, television hasn’t.

Generically, what we’re being asked for is more information about our audiences. BBM [Bureau of Measurement] is measuring Vancouver three times a year in three-week sweeps. But the television spectrum is volatile, and there are many changes throughout the year. It’s not enough. Nielsen measures more frequently, but it’s still not sufficient.

It’s new-show time, so you’ll get a measurement, and they will pick up some of the new shows, but only a few. There is a big need to have more measurement. There’s some talk in bbm of going to longer survey periods, perhaps eight-week sweeps.

The rating services gather a little bit of demographic data, but it’s very superficial.

In a utopian world, we’d like to be able to answer the question: ‘Is there a difference between the people who watch Murphy Brown and those people who watch Married with Children’?

Both are sitcoms, depending on who you talk to. But none of our measurement processes can measure the differences between them. We can draw all kinds of assumptions, but we really can’t answer the question.

In the selling process, we are regularly faced with people who will say, ‘We buy news because it has a bettter quality of audience,’ but that’s purely subjective. People’s prejudices are coming through. Their decisions are not made on a particularly scientific basis.

One of the things that’s being attempted right now, for the first time, is to involve Vancouver television stations in the Retail Product Measurement study.

It consists of a telephone interview and a self-completed mail-in questionnaire. The study will involve about 2,500 people, which allows you to do some interesting analysis into relatively small subsets of data.

Originally, it was conducted by the research arm of bbm on behalf of radio stations, but now it’s being opened up to tv. It measures people’s purchasing habits and lifestyles. It’s an attempt to come up with more qualitative data.