Ken LeClair

Head of Research, TVCBC English Network, TorontoThe rating services let you know who is there, but you have to infer from that how people are reacting to things. From a programming point-of-view, that's quite a difficult leap to make.While there are...

Head of Research, TV

CBC English Network, Toronto

The rating services let you know who is there, but you have to infer from that how people are reacting to things. From a programming point-of-view, that’s quite a difficult leap to make.

While there are qualitative instruments out there, like focus groups and surveys, they are used in a more ad hoc way than the rating services, and their coverage of all the different issues tends to be spottier.

Qualitative information would allow me to give producers some idea how they can appeal to the audiences that are with their show, rather than telling them this type of show attracts this size of audience. It would give them some indication how they can adjust specific shows to respond to audience interests. Qualitative data tells you why people are there watching a show.

With quantitative ratings, we just know that people are there, and we have to guess at the reasons why.

Different networks and different organizations do their own qualitative research, but it’s hard to know exactly what’s out there and how it could be improved. There are now syndicated rating services, if we could have syndicated qualitative services, that would be a start.

A lot of qualitative data has to be collected from focus groups, where it is not quantifiable. If there was a recognized, standard, qualitative score, that would be helpful, but it would be very expensive.

Unfortunately, I don’t have any practical solutions to this.