“My presentation at the Media Insights & Engagement Conference, ‘You Can’t Spell Innovation Without O, T, & A,’ was meant to swim against the tide,” says Marks. “Over-the-air (OTA) is thought to be old fashioned. It’s not as sexy as streaming and cable but it’s the foundation of the TV industry, and still relevant today. We need innovation in OTA audience measurement.”
A lot of the innovation in audience measurement is driven by cross platform measurement tapped into by the large broadcast and cable companies who have streaming services. There’s also an aspect that some players, unhappy with Nielsen, have turned to other services that are harnessing big data and other data sources.
“But it’s a disservice to OTA programming,” asserts Marks, who points out that while set top boxes have access to a large portion of the population, it may not tell the whole story. “They [set top boxes] don’t’ have homes with antennas that are not subscribers. That’s about 15% of the country that watch OTA. If that’s not part of the sample, then it undercuts the OTA audience.”
Meanwhile, Marks points to the growing importance of smart TV’s, yet only a few of the manufacturers are letting their data to be used in research. “Each smart TV has a unique viewing environment, it might be very easy to use an antenna, where others need more steps,” he says. Marks feels that while OTA networks are investing in free streaming platforms, that smart TV’s tend to undercount OTA.
While acknowledging that Scripps has a vested interest in the OTA market, Marks notes that, “My presentation provides a perspective as to how OTA measurement can and must be improved, both at the national and local level.”
“Advertisers deserve correct data,” Marks says. “Certain types of programming are poorly measured. There are problems with the current measurement and the research industry doesn’t do a good job of OTA within cable and satellite. We should make sure measurement is equitable and complete, and that all programmers are properly measured. It’s clear that we all need to be working together, foster collaboration and harness resources.”