Last week the Dutch public broadcast channel BNNVARA announced to make plans on taking into account Youtube and Facebook statistics when measuring audience ratings on their different tv-programs. They argue the Dutch public broadcasting organization is not developing new ways of measuring audience ratings quick enough. And with the general BNNVARA public being youngsters, measuring audience ratings just by counting the numbers of tv-watchers seems to be an outdated method. A lot of kids watch the popular programs online rather than on television, so not taking into account the online audience ratings might give a distorted picture of a program’s popularity, the channel argues.
As is pointed out by Cherubini and Kleis Nielsen, this kind of measuring comes with a lot of complications. One of the recipients in Cherubini and Kleis Nielsen’s inquiry calls out about measuring audience ratings on social media like Youtube:
“Every platform will give you data and the first question is how can we trust that data, what does that mean for you and how do you compare the data between platforms.” (Cherubini and Kleis Nielsen (2016))
Next to that, since up till now i.e. Youtube doesn’t share a lot of its data on visitors behavior, the best method to get data about audience ratings is just simply watch how many times a video is rendered. This comes with a lot of unanswered questions like how a video needs to be rendered for to be counting as a unique view?’ You don’t know anything about who watches the video or at what time of the day. Relevant information when deciding whether a program is still worth it to spend public money on. BNNVARA wants to be quick with audience ratings on social media, but has to think wisely on how to interpret them.
Cherubini, F. & Kleis Nielsen, R. Editorial Analytics: How News Media Are Developing and Using Audience Data and Metrics. Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism (2016).