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Metro Manila survey shows drop in off-air broadcast channel viewers across all cable TV subscribers
The audience share of off-air broadcast channels among cabled homes declined in the last two months as cable TV subscribers switched viewership to cable channels, especially those offering 24-hour news, like ABS-CBN News Channel.


An analysis of AC Nielsens Peoplemeter Metro Manila viewership report showed that off-air channels audience share dropped to 56.8% as of March 15 from 58.4% in November 2002. On the other hand, cable TV channels audience share increased to 43.2% from 41.6% in the same period.

The decrease in off-air channel viewership was more pronounced among cable TV subscribers outside the Beyond Cable Holdings, Inc. (BCI)-operated systems. The BCI systems consist of SKYCable and HomeCable in Metro Manila. They have less than 200,000 legitimate and paying subscribers or less than 10% of the estimated 2 million TV homes in Metro Manila.

Off-air channels audience share lost only 2 percentage points in BCI (from 60% to 58%) and lost 4 percentage points in other cable systems (from 56% to 52%). The decline was primarily due to the higher viewership of the ABS-CBN News Cable Channel among BCI subscribers and of the other cable news channels among non-BCI subscribers.

Meanwhile, a call-in survey conducted from March 24-30 among legitimate or paying BCI subscribers showed that the change in channel assignments of the off-air broadcast channels on the BCI system resulted in overall better signals. Of 1,657 subscribers surveyed, 67% said their signal improved or did not change (47% better; 20% no change) and only 32% said it got worse.

GMA Network Inc. had publicly accused BCI affiliates of distorting its signal following a change in the channel assignments of broadcast stations. But for GMA7 alone, the number of people who said the signal got better was equal to the number of people who said it got worse. The difference between the two groups is not statistically significant.

However, overall, the improvement in the signal is statistically significant. BCI marketing head Joy Santos said the survey results should quell GMA7s concern that the channel change was meant to decrease its viewership among cable TV audiences. On the contrary, the channel changes were meant to provide better video and audio quality to all broadcast stations in line with marketing thrusts to entice more non-cabled homes to subscribe to cable TV.

Nonetheless, the same AC Nielsen Peoplemeter survey showed that GMA7 lost more ground in non-cabled homes dropping to an audience share of 35.2% as of March 15 from a high of 39.5% in January 2003. Its viewership in cabled homes only declined to 20.4% from 23.0% in the same period. 

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