Dutch glued to tube

Aud share up for commercial b'casters

AMSTERDAM — Dutch eyeballs are glued to the tube and to commercial television more than ever before.

The Dutch viewing research organization Stichting KijkOnderzoek (SKO) says viewers in the Netherlands aged 6 years and older in 2003 watched an average of three hours and seven minutes a day of TV, an increase of nine minutes from 2002 and 24 minutes from 2001.

Public broadcasters, increasingly under the spotlight to justify their enormous budget of $1.1 billion annually, once again lost viewing share to commercial channels, according to SKO.

Market share of the three public channels dipped from 35.9 % in 2002 to 34.4% in 2003. Main loss came from Dutch Channel 2, which has an eclectic profile of commercial, religious, youth and sports programming and often does well oulling auds. Sports, however, usually carry the channel, and 2003 was not a big year for sports in Holland, one reason being given for the aud slide on that channel, from 17.2% in 2002 to 15.7% a year later.

Three-channel commercial net RTL Nederland (formerly known as Holland Media Group) posted an overall market share of 26.2%, up from 25.3% a year earlier, while SBS Broadcasting’s three-channel commercial subsid in Holland pushed its 2002 market share from 16.3 % to 16.8%.

SKO says the most-watched program in 2003 was the soccer competition between the Holland and Scotland national teams, with 5.5 million viewers tuning in. Final broadcast of the Dutch talent-search program “Idols” took second place at 4.9 million viewers. Half of the the 50 most watched programs were either soccer games or about soccer.

Overall, viewers over 50 watched TV the most, some 233 minutes a day, while 13 to 19 year olds also increased viewing slightly, but the biggest target group for advertisers, the 20-34 age group, remained stable. That’s bad news for SKO, a group whose members, including commercial TV channels, are all dependent to some degree on television advertising.

Sign of the times and how fractionalized this market has become in a decade: in January of 1994, the pubcasters took a 50% share of the audience, while RTL 4 and RTL 5 (now part of RTL Nederland) racked up another 33%. There were no other commercial channels in the territory.

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