Czech TV ratings revamp

PRAGUE — Peoplemeters are painting a new picture of Czech television viewing habits.

First results since the trial introduction in mid-April brought grim news for Central European Media Enterprises’ (CME) super-success Nova TV, as its competitors across the board benefited from the first officially released ratings.

At the same time, lagging private broadcaster Prima TV found support for its claims of unfairness in the diary system previously in use, and moved forward in its campaign to capture 10% to 15% of the viewers. Pubcaster Czech TV’s upscale channel CT2 also proved a more vigorous draw than previously thought. Moreover, figures have remained relatively stable over the month, fluctuating by half a percentage point or less.

Dramatic changes

The jump was dramatic from the first week in June, when data began to be collected for public release. It showed Nova TV falling from 66.7% for that week in 1996 to 54.3% for the same week in 1997. Primetime results comparing the same period in 1996 and 1997 showed a drop from 66% to 53.6%. (But the numbers still make it the clear market leader.)

Conversely, Prima TV moved up from 3.4% to 8.3% for the same week, doing even better for the primetime viewing period of 6:30 to 10:00 p.m.

Here it more than tripled its numbers, moving from 2.7% in 1996 to 8.6% this year.

Czech TV came in over its target 30% level, boosted mainly by strong results from CT2. Those rose from a weekly 3.2% in 1996 to 5.7% in 1997, with primetime results rising from 2.8% to 6.1%. CTV head of acquisitions Jan Rubes said, “It’s a big revolution. Documentaries are doing very well on CT2. It shows we have an intelligent audience who will tune in to those programs.” CTV1, which offers a more commercial programming schedule, moved from a weekly 24.2% to 27.1%, and from 26.7% to 28.6% for primetime.

Cablers cheer

Also benefiting were cable and satellite broadcasters, who moved from 2.5% in 1996 to 4.6% in the same period this year. They still claim a smaller percentage of primetime viewers, rising from 1.7% to 3.1%.

The peoplemeter results have aggravated a decrease in advertising rates on money-maker Nova TV. Combined with the declining economic situation in the Czech Republic and seasonal dropoff in TV viewing, the peoplemeter reports led Nova TV to lower advertising rates by approximately 10% in its lowest price categories to 25% for its most popular sitcom.

Since Nova has been CME’s big money-spinner, propping up losses from less flourishing stations, squawks may be heard coming from squeezed investors. CME trades on the U.S. Nasdaq as CETV.

Prima TV had happier news, with more of the big-spender advertisers buying air time.

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