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Mexican Standoffs | Globo, Televisa & Nielsen IBOPE


Source: Escrevinhador. Translation: C. Brayton

TV Globo free-to-air broadcasting continues to bleed audience. Between 2004 and 2014, the broadcaster lost 40% of market share, according to data obtained exclusively by the column.

This could be a disgruntled employee — Globo is laying off even as we speak, and not just the key grips, either — or someone with another reason for painting a grim picture. One thing is certain: Globo is more of a kereitsu  than you think, running neck and neck with Mexico’s Televisa, among others.

“Share” means the percentage of the broadcaster in the universe of televisions turned on and tuned in. It is given as a percentage rather than as IBOPE audience points, and is a way of observing the behavior of the public in direct contact with their television.

In Brazil, IBOPE is a partner with A.C. Nielsen, in a combine called Nielsen IBOPE.

In other words, ten years ago some 50% of operating TVs were tuned into Globo between 7:00 a.m. to midnight, from Monday to Sunday. In earlier days, this index had climbed as high as 70%. During the final episodes of the great soap opera, that figure may have reached as high as 90%. Last year, Globo found its share sinking below 32%. In other words, the broadcast has lost a significant 18 percentage points (40%) of the universe of active TV sets.

For comparison’s sake, over the past decade, the Record network raised its share from 10% to 15% today. SBT had 20% share and now has only 13%. But no matter where this public that has given up watching Globo (and SBT) has gone, there have no mass migrations to other free-to-air broadcasters. The answers may not be measured by the numbers, but it can certainly be explained. Most of this “fugitive” public divide their time between the Internet, pay TV (260% growth in the period), DVDs and videogames. The public is interested in DVDs and videogames, while an immense public is busy with the Internet, although IBOPE has never undertaken to estimate this factor. It is true that Globo remains the market leader in pay TV, but it is well to remember that not even 30% of the Brazilian market has access to this source of entertainment. Measured in points, Globo’s average for 7:00 a.m. to midnight was 21.7 points. Last year, it sank to 13.5.


Meanwhile, Nielsen IBOPE Mexico comes under fire from the country’s media monopoly (W$J Spanish).

Nielsen Company, the audience measurement firm, entered one of the most promising emerging markets when some two years ago it took control of a local Mexican firm. Its experience in the Latin American nation has transformed into the corporate equivalent of a horror film, however. Just two hours after signing the sale agreement for the majority of shares in its partner, the Mexican IBOPE, the Nielsen executives received bad news: the names, addresses and telephone numbers of hundreds of families that contribute to the company’s analysis of viewing habits.

They were stolen by an anonymous hacker and broadly distributed. This is a nightmare for any audience measurement company. It is to be supposed that the list of Nielsen families is a trade secret used to prevent spectators from being pressured to watch certain shows and issue favorable opinions.

Now, the duopoly that controls open-to-air televisions in Mexico, Grupo Televisa SAB and Azteca SAB, have used the hacking scandal to launch a full-scale assault on Nielsen IBOPE. The two firms brought criminal and civil charges against Nielsen Ibope for fraud and other crimes. Televisa tried without success to obtain an arrest warrant for the executives of Nielsen Ibope.

To be continued …

The two firms brought criminal and civil charges against Nielsen Ibope for fraud and other crimes. Televisa tried without success to obtain an arrest warrant for the executives of Nielsen Ibope.

Azteca does not even use the audience metrics of the company and has even tried to decommission the famous “audience meter” by bring lawsuits against its use.

Nielsen executives declined comment on any aspect of the case. But in a recent presentation to the U.S. Media Rating Council, created by Congress to encourage the development of a fair standard, Nielsen accused Azteca of trying to “undermine and destroy ratings in the Mexican market.”

This development complicates what the authorities hoped would be a revolution in the measurement of audience on Mexican TV. This month, the federal telecoms regulator must inform [media companies] the details of a plan to auction spectrum to two new national television networks, based on a law approved by the Mexican congress designed to increase competition. Without a system of audience measurement, however, any new channel will have a hard time convincing advertisers that it is achieving better market share compared with the established network(s).

“The audience numbers act like the referee in a football game,” says Mony de Swaan, a former federal telecoms minister. “WIth no referee, it is much more difficult to ensure a clean match so that potential advertisers of any new TV network are reassured. The debate has distracted attention from the changes in the industry in which duopoly control of the market is threatend. Before the IBOPE data are filtered, the indexes showed a strong downward tendency in the percentage of spectators of Televisa and Azteca compared with rivals in cable and satellite TV. This is happening in a number of Latin American countries. Even so, thank to a healthy demand for advertising, none of the networks have suffered economically from the growth of pay TV.

This could change if the competitiveness of new networks improves. The fact is, Televisa and Azteca for years have demanded exorbitant rates from rival cable and satellite TV for the right to retransmit its open signals — an attempt, specialists say, was an attempt to prevent the growth of pay TV. Last year, the Mexican congress approved a law according to which the networks much provide the signals free of charge.

In February, however, Televisa convince a judge in Mexico City to suspend the new law. The president took the case to the Supreme Court in a bid to overturn the motivation of the appeals court. A spokesman for Televisa said the purpose of the suit was to protect its own intellectual property. From 2008 to 2013, the percentages of Mexicans who watch open-to-air TV fell from 84% to 72%, according to finding by Nielsen Ibope. That is down from 77% five years ago.

Both Televisa and Azteca have fought back hard. During a 2011 media conference in New York, Azteca owner Ricardo Salinas Pliego, described the IBOPE indices as “crap.” “They have talked trash about open-to-air television for years now,” he said. “They say: ‘you are losing viewers’ … so that advertisers naturally start to say, “We will pay you less.” Nielsen argues that his measurement system, including the IBOPE units acquired during the merger, is valid. Since the arrival of Nielsen, Azteca put an end to a system in which audience points were used to base the advertising rate. It now usings a fixed fee that depends on various factors, the company says. Televisa, meanwhile, spent 18 months producing audience indices based on outdated estimates of penetration that favored its numbers. In October, however, a judicial order obliged it to use fresher data. And so advertising rates have risen in most of the time slots, according to leaders of the public relations industry. Neither Azteca nor Televisa will discuss their income from ad sales. What is at stake, however, is US$ 52.7 billion in ad spending per year, the networks say.

It is difficult to exaggerate the power wielded by Televisa and Azteca in Mexico. Both networks regularly use their evening newscasts to criticize business rivals and personal enemies, analysts say.

On the eve of the presidential elections of 2023, thousands of Mexicans took to the streets to protest what they considered news coverage favoring candidate Enrique Peña Nieto, who is a soap opera star. …

[compare o coronelismo]

Analysts say that the President’s recent measure to promote competence in the industrial sector is an attempt to demonstrate he owes no political debt to Televisa.

Acapulco on the Volga River

“Everyone talks about the Russian oligarchs,” says Denise Dresser, a political scientist at ITAM. “But the Mexican oligarchs are just as bad.”

The networks deny using the airwaves to support candidates and persecute enemies. They also question reports that they are attacking Nielsen IBOPE or the Mexican system of audience measurement.

“Azteca firmly believes in the importance of a reliable measuring system … so much so that we use rating from Nielsen//Net Ratings in the U.S,” the company said in a written response to our questions.”

A Televisa exec said they expected to resolve the issue with Nielsen in coming weeks.

The adverse climate is a radical change after so many years of cordial relations between Televisa and Azteca. Privatized in 1993, TV Azteca is a state-supported channel with 2% market share, compared with Televisa, which for years enjoyed a private monopoly in exchange for coverage favorable to the government.

Clever programming attracts viewers and the company relies heavily on the ratings to attract advertisers. Not long ago,[Azteca] stole 30% market from Televisa, which found itself obliged to use audience measurement for the first time in order to establish its advertising rates.

In Septemeber 2011, Azteca spoke glowingly of Ibope. “A lot of producers are going to want to kill me for what I am about to say, but I believe we have a very positive audience measurement system in Mexico. I believe ours is among the best,” said Mario San Román, CEO of Azteca, in an interview on the IBOPE Web site, adding that audience measurement is “a familiar daily task, trustworthy and systematic.”

A few days after the names of the Nielsen families were leaked, Azteca took straight aim at the heart of the measurement firm.

“Ibope destroyed faith in the ratings system with its negligence in allowing addresses to leak,” said San Román during the Azteca evening newscast. “The damages so far are incalculable.”

San Román said that secretive nature of the panel had been violated. “If the panel is not secret, someone comes along and tries to pressure persons in the panel who watch certain channels and affect the results,” he added.

On June 19, two days before the leak, employees of Banco Azteca, also the property of Salinas Pliego, visited the homes of dozens of panel members in eight Mexican states and offered them money to change answers, according to sworn statements reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

Showdown in Nuevo Leon

Oscar Eduardo Vallejo, a Banco Azteca employee in Nuevo León, turned up at the home of a panel member and offered 3,000 pesos (U$260) for the machine that records the habits of TV watchers. The lady of the house called her IBOPE contact, who came over and took pictures of Vallejo’s motorcycle, with a license plate linking it to the Banco Azteca. The IBOPE representative also snapped his work document and a letter in his power with specific instructions on how to carry out the operation, according to the witness.

“What are we expected to do? The head of collections and credit is supposed to present himself to the head of household and offer a sum of 3,000 pesos for the box. If the subject is averse to selling it, a second visit should be scheduled. for every box collected, the company JCC receives 1.000 pesos,” according to the instructions, written on the notepaper of the Banco Azteca, according to the sworn testimony.

Grupo Salinas, which controls both TV Azteca and Banco Azteca, said it had no knowledge about these supposed incidents.

Nielsen: Damages in the Millions

Las televisoras obtuvieron victorias previas, aunque parciales. En diciembre de 2011, un juez de Ciudad de México le ordenó a Ibope entregar todos sus audímetros a Azteca hasta que el caso fuera resuelto, algo que hubiera acabado con la empresa. Nielsen logró que un juez suspendiera el fallo.

Tras la filtración de datos, Nielsen ha gastado millones de dólares en la reconstrucción de nuevos paneles y mayor seguridad para evitar otro robo. El nuevo panel fue auditado por Ernst & Young.

En los meses después de la filtración, tanto Azteca como Televisa se retiraron del Consejo de Investigación de Medios de México, la asociación de la industria que promueve un acuerdo sobre la metodología de medición entre las cadenas de televisión, los anunciantes y las firmas de audiencia. Azteca quiere ahora que la Cámara Nacional de la Industria de Radio y Televisión haga una subasta para un nuevo sistema de medición.

Azteca dice que no volverá a usar cifras de Nielsen Ibope hasta que se resuelvan los casos judiciales. “No podemos pretender que no ha pasado nada. La demanda debe resolverse antes de reconstruir una relación”, dijo en una respuesta escrita a las preguntas.

A principios de febrero, el Consejo de Medición de Audiencia de EE.UU. negó una solicitud de Nielsen de expulsar a Azteca del grupo. Pero el consejo se ha comprometido a intervenir y auditar toda la metodología de Nielsen Ibope en México, la primera medida de este tipo para dicha entidad.

George Ivie, director ejecutivo del consejo, dice que espera que la auditoría con el tiempo logre un consenso entre las partes.

“Un sistema de medición de audiencia justo y fiable con el que todos estén de acuerdo es la única manera de que la industria funcione”, dice.