The other day we received a press release from NBC Universal claiming an enormous success for their Sci-Fi and 13th Street channels in The Netherlands.
They “have rapidly gained nationwide popularity amongst digital TV viewers in The Netherlands” and “the channels ranked first and second in audience share amongst viewers aged 6 years and over in the digital TV universe last month.”
In addition, the channels “were also the first and second rated channel based on monthly reach.”
Well, congratulations are in order with such a success. But on second thought – are these figures really what they are? Earlier this year SKO, the Dutch organisation responsible for television viewing research, started to publish viewing figures for the digital channels.
These figures can in no way be compared to the regular audience figures for the main channels. No, this research only shows the total reach of people tuning in for at least one (!) minute to a digital channel – over a period of one week and four weeks. Such figures only give an indication of the relative popularity of a channel, no way are these proper viewing figures.
Now, on to the figures of Sci-Fi and 13th Street. During a four-week period in June, Sci-Fi had a total reach of 20.3%, placing the channel at the number one position of all digital channels in the country. 13th Street came second with a cumulative reach of 17.1%. Impressive results, but these are people who tuned in for at least one minute during a four-week period.
What is the reason of this success? The two channels are new arrivals on the Ziggo network, which expanded their reach to 1.9 million homes. Not only that, during a special introductory period Sci-Fi was also available to all 3.4 million analogue homes on the Ziggo showcase channel, which promotes the digital TV services. Without doubt, this has boosted the figures enormously. However, 13th Street did not receive this special treatment, but is for the first 12 months available as part of the basic digital tier.
To take another example: during April, the Dutch channel Nostalgienet was shown on the same analogue showcase channel. This bumped up their rating to an 18.6% reach over a four-week period. However, after that window closed down the figure went down to 5.9%
Having put the figures into perspective, the results of the NBC Universal channels are still very good and are among the best of all digital channels. I expect the channels to remain in the Top 10 of the digital bouquets across all platforms.
This cannot be said of the thematic channels put up by the Dutch public broadcasters. With the exception of the comedy channel Humor TV 24 and the youth oriented 101TV, their reach over a four-week period is below 10%. In concrete terms, some channels attract just a few dozen viewers at a time.