Reach versus Audience? The case For & Against….

Reach versus Audience? The case For & Against….

Is there a number that best reflects the way we are consuming television in 2024: National TV Reach or National TV Audience?

It’s been one of the hot talking points since Australia underwent its biggest change to TV Ratings reporting in 20 years.

Or should media now be reporting two numbers for every show, and how effective is that in the conversation?

Free to Air still has mass appeal and power. But there’s little doubt with so much shift in screens and behaviours the previous reporting was not keeping up, particularly when Television is competing with Online, Streaming, YouTube, Outdoor advertising etc.

National TV Audience numbers now address this with a combined average for both linear TV and BVOD (such as iview, 7plus etc) across both metro and regional markets.

National TV Reach is total unique audience exposed to a program, of at least one minute (broadcast TV) and / or 15 seconds (BVOD) of the program.

OzTAM, which has encouraged media to report Reach results, has so far delivered huge Reach numbers for shows following big reality TV. However, their National TV Audience, which it also supplies, is sometimes around half the figure.

While the advertising industry largely has access to detailed numbers, there is nonetheless some division…

OzTAM view:

Karen Halligan
CEO, OzTAM:

“OzTAM’s new VOZ Total TV program ranking reports provide reach and audience data – both of which are relevant to media agencies across their full plan-trade-evaluate process. Reach-ranked viewership also provides a more comparable metric to other media, particularly online.

“OzTAM reports are public domain and as such can be interpreted by trade media as they see fit in their reporting.”

In Favour of National TV Reach:

Sarinna Harte,
Integrations and Agency Investment Lead Ryval Media

“When we’re talking from a screens approach, we’re talking about Reach in numbers, impressions, and things like that. So to have a metric to talk about all channels it’s relevant to have Reach, I think.

“(Previously) we were obviously looking at things like TARPs (Total Audience Rating Point). We were just getting Overnight numbers and things like that…. We would look at a programme for example, like Nine News, which against that audience would maybe TARP like 3.2, or something like that from a Total Audience that we’re buying against.

“Now we can see the Total National Reach, Regional included, and we can see BVOD numbers all together, it makes sense. It makes it a really great selling proposition for us to get clients on board for a ‘holistic screens approach’ (instead of) Traditional versus Digital. It’s great, because it’s all combined and we don’t have to go to several different platforms to then tell that story.”

Harte sees the benefits in Reach in buying and selling on the national audience. The biggest challenge is in clients grasping the granular changes.

“Probably the biggest qualm, I guess, is from an education point of view: where do those numbers fall within that programme? You’ve got 2 million people viewing MAFS, but where exactly were those 2 million people watching and where was your ad placed within that programme?

“So it’s an education process for media buyers and planners, and then for us to take that out to clients. I think the key thing is for the people who have built this model and this metric who understand it, to come in and do that educating to all media partners.

“There’s still a lot of questions in market. But I think having a bit more of a holistic screens Reach Total just helps us sell the ‘whole screens approach’ instead of looking at it specifically from a Traditional versus Digital model.”

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In Favour of National TV Audience:

Frank Carlino
Sydney Investment Lead, Carat

“The networks can’t disguise the fact that clients still know what’s going on. As agencies we need to inform our clients and we continue to do that. So the tools still allow for us to give Average audience and that’s the way we buy, because when you put a spot in a certain programme you buy it to either an hour break, or whatever it is… it is average audience. You can’t actually pinpoint the amount of spikes in terms of the Reach. You can’t go ‘I want my spot at 10:01pm’, or else you pay a Premium.

“It’s not going to change the way we buy or what clients see. It’s just another way the networks are using to try and get some revenue back.”

Carlino has concerns with the ‘halo effect’ Reach is bringing to some shows.

“I wasn’t too surprised to see MAFS at 2.5m. The show that followed had a halo effect, so the first break-in off the back of MAFS, was probably 1.2 mil or something. But then on average, it hit like 600,000. So unless your spots are in that first break, and you had the benefit of your ad being seen, and people not switching over, then yes, it was that high. But we need to be looking at average.”

Are there any benefits from the new changes?

“I think it’s good for the TV industry to get revenue back for the networks but it’s just all smoke and mirrors. Reach isn’t what we trade on, we buy average audience. And also we don’t buy a national audience as well. We buy it by market.

“There’s clients across my patch, that just buy the eastern seaboard market: Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. So there’s wastage there by looking at a Total National Reach when you’ve got Adelaide and Perth included.

“But it doesn’t really disguise the fact that TV is declining.

“Networks always try to lead with Reach and they’ve been doing that for a while. Every press release that comes out whenever a show launches, it’s always been about Reach. Clients tell me. ‘We want to sponsor this show, because it’s getting that many people,’ but we just always give them the numbers that we feel are the average audience.

“That’s the right number.”

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