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ATO - Asociace televizních organizací News 15 Years of People Meters in the Czech Republic

15 Years of People Meters in the Czech Republic


On 2 June 2012 it will be fifteen years since the postman delivered floppy disks for Czech televisions with the first people meter data. This is a rather comic idea in the light of today’s technology, but at the time it was literally a revolution, and it launched a new era in television audience measurement.

It was not that there was no data on the Czech market before electronic measurement began. The tradition of diary research in Czech (or Czechoslovak, as it then was) Television dates back to the 1970s. As well as audience measurement it was also concerned with viewer satisfaction, and it allowed the future success of programmes to be predicted, and how long they would remain popular. This research still goes on today, and it is a unique source of information on the changing tastes of Czech viewers.

Before people meters appeared on the market, there were three main research projects offering information on television audiences: the multimedia Mediaprojekt, research by Czech Television’s Programme and Auditorium Analysis Centre (SAPA) and research by the DEMA agency. Obviously the figures varied, sometimes quite substantially. Programme makers and media planners could only dream of research conducted in a single currency. That single currency came with the introduction of new technology called people meters, later also known as TV meters. Naturally electronic data presented many surprises for the market. People meters are uncompromising and do not let viewers pretend to be more cultivated than they are, ones who would never watch lighter genres or erotica.

Electronic television audience measurement was commissioned by the Association of Television Organisations (ATO), which also owned the data. ATO was founded on 1 March 1997 by three member organisations: Czech Television, ČNTS Nova and TV Premiéra. These stations were also the first customers for people meter data. The Association of Communications Agencies (AKA) joined ATO on 8 August 2001, and ATO took on the form of a JIC (Joint Industry Committee), where there are market representatives as well as broadcasters. The JIC offers an ideal ratio of quality to price, the most reliable data, guaranteed audits and the application of the latest development trends. The main members of ATO are now Czech Television, CET 21, FTV Prima and AKA.

The first to implement the single currency – uniform television audience measurement – in this country was Taylor Nelson AGB Media Facts (now Taylor Nelson Sofres Media / Kantar Media), which signed a contract with ATO’s predecessor, the Association of Communications and Media Organisations (SKMO), out of which ATO then emerged. From 1997 to 2002 minute data was supplied to users from a research panel of 660 households. In the second project from 2002 to 2007 the company was unsuccessful in defending its role as research provider, and the tender was won by the MEDIARESEARCH agency. The agency increased the number of households on the panel to 1 333 and measured data at one-second intervals. The supply of data became quicker: since 2007 data has been supplied every day, including Sundays. Research was conducted in collaboration with the STEM/MARK research agency, the Elvia company and the software company Lerach. The project included an LSS survey of lifestyle, consumer and media behaviour. In 2008 LSS children was added to research children’s lifestyle. “Lifestyle research has added an interesting new dimension to audience data, and regularly provides information on Czech adults and children,” remarks Vlasta Roškotová, ATO’s Managing Director.

The research provider for the third project for 2007-2012 was again MEDIARESEARCH, with the same subcontractors. In this project, which is still underway, the panel has been further increased to 1 833 households, resulting in greater accuracy for analyses of the audience in smaller target groups and for television stations that do not have nationwide penetration. The measuring technology has been updated. There was a pilot project for ReMark mobile personal measuring equipment for radio and television, and in another pilot project measuring the live and deferred audience (TimeShift) was tested on computers.

In 2011 ATO organised a tender for a new research provider for 2013-2017. This was the first time the tender took the form of a public contract, and it was again won by MEDIARESEARCH. The future electronic measurement project promises numerous improvements, especially online access to data almost in real time, measuring the live and deferred audience for TV broadcasting in television sets and computers in households, regardless how the signal is distributed, updated measuring equipment and a gradual switch to audiomatching technology. The deferred audience will be measured with a seven-day history. “On the morning of the following day daily audience data will include the final data for the live programme audience and the deferred audience for programmes already broadcast that were watched on the same day,” said Tereza Šimečková, Chairwoman of the Board at MEDIARESEARCH. Final data on the deferred audience for programmes will be available seven days after their original broadcast.

In this recapitulation of the history of the people meter project, we cannot forget the late Dr Eva Ličková, PhD, a sociologist who made a major contribution, first in Czech Television and then in TV Nova, to introducing people meter measurement in the Czech Republic, with the great support of her counterparts in GEAR (the Group of European Audioresearchers). She died on 17 May 1997, exactly a year after the first contract was signed.


History of television audience measurement in the Czech Republic


Audience data as part of MEDIAPROJEKT media research (F2F, questionnaire)


Two parallel diary research projects: SAPA and DEMA


Association of Television Organisations founded


TAM I in CR - Taylor Nelson AGB Media Facts


Households on panel: 660




Households on panel: 1 333




Households on panel: 1 833


ATO tender for 2013-2017 – contract signed with MEDIARESEARCH


Establishment survey for TAM IV


TAM III ends