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BRC announces interim results to the TAMS audit

In the beginning of 2021, The Broadcast Research Council of South Africa (BRC) announced its intention to commission a more comprehensive TAMS (TV Audience Measurement Survey) audit due to rapid changes in the video viewing landscape, a rise in zero ratings, loadshedding and greater challenges faced by technicians servicing the TAMS panel due to COVID-19. While the audit is currently being conducted, the first interim report has already been received.

“While we will not be sharing the minutiae of the interim reports, we will rather make the broader analysis of further interim reports available, covering separate areas, as we receive them,” says BRC’s CEO, Gary Whitaker. “The consolidated final TAMS audit report will be accessible to the industry towards the beginning of October 2021.”

The TAMS panel itself has been placed in the spotlight recently, particularly as there has been limited panel management over the past 12 months due to the COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions surrounding the various Lockdown levels.

While the full audit is still being conducted, the current interim report covers, firstly, environmental review, a qualitative survey of factors including power supply, viewing on other platforms and devices and secondly, a deep analysis of the market landscape and its changes from recent years.

The interim report shows that there are multiple drivers impacting measured viewing performance with four main areas contributing overall. These are:

  1. Changes in the structure of TV households. As the market moves more to digital services like DStv, OpenView, DTT (Digital Terrestrial Television) etc, the choice of channels increase to the consumer. This means less time spent watching the larger Free to Air (FTA) channels, resulting in more fragmented audiences. The decline in analogue homes has accelerated in the past couple of months and will continue as the government rolls out their plans to switch off analogue altogether.
  2. Performance within platform and a channel’s ability to maintain or grow share of broadcast TV within a platform. For instance, SABC has seen a decline in performance across all platforms. As the structure of the market has changed the make-up of FTA channel viewing has evolved. Analogue only homes made up two thirds of SABC average monthly audiences in 2019. By May 2021 the platform contribution of analogue only dropped to 52%, with DStv, OpenView and DTT contributing more.
  3. The share of broadcast TV as a proportion of total measured TV. There are strong indications that analogue and DTT homes are supplementing their viewing with non-broadcast content as more streaming media channels become available to South Africans. The stay-at-home lockdown that the country has been under over the past 18 months has accelerated this trend as families seek more home entertainment.
  4. The impact of Loadshedding/load reduction is more unpredictable and can result in significant declines in overall viewing in the short term. While the other factors investigated are more gradual and can be considered in planning, loadshedding and load reduction cannot be predicted - particularly weeks or months in advance. The impact on reporting samples is greater than the impact on ratings although the weighting process makes some corrections for the lower samples.

According to the report, all these factors can and do impact performance and reporting samples and increase the likelihood of zero-rated spots. As we know, loadshedding is the most unpredictable and most severe of these factors.

In the meantime, certain recommendations have been made based on the current findings.

  1. Minute-by-minute data. Consideration should be given to moving the currency to minute-by-minute data as opposed to the current second by second data as it will marginally stabilize the data at the most granular spot by spot level, whilst having no impact at a program and channel level.
  2. Consider the timing and narrative around universe updates. Timing should allow for plans to be adjusted which should encourage planners to confirm their schedules and projections. Possibly more trading target markets should be included in the comparative tables.
  3. Source data for planning. More recent weeks of source data would be the best source for planning as opposed to the same time a year ago.
  4. Analogue Switch off. For Free to Air (FTA) channels, the impact of the analogue switchover should be factored in. This is more relevant for middle to lower income target markets.
  5. Loadshedding. While loadshedding cannot be planned, from a post campaign perspective the performance should also be run using “loadshedding No” included in the target market definition for a particular day. This will give the performance against the fully available target market. However, the software systems do not currently support PCAs over multiple days being run in this manner.

“The BRC is and will always strive to ensure that all of our data is correct, in good health, reflective of the situation and representative of the universe,” concludes Whitaker.

For more information on the BRC visit

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BRC announces next Infinite Dial study

The Broadcast Research Council of South Africa (BRC) will be overseeing the next iteration of Infinite Dial, the leading study on digital audio from Edison Research. The South African edition of the study, set to go infield in August 2021, is sponsored by Triton Digital®, the global technology and services leader to the digital audio and podcast industry, in association with the National Association Of Broadcasters' (NAB) Commercial Radio Committee.

“The Infinite Dial study, which debuted in 2019, explores the consumption of audio among South Africans living within the major metro commercial areas, covering the upper two of the three SEM Supergroups (or upper three of the five SEM Clusters),” says BRC’s CEO, Gary Whitaker.

This year, due to Covid, the research will be accomplished by Computer Aided Telephonic Interviews (CATI) as opposed to the face-to-face interviews completed in 2019. A total of (at least) 1500 consumers, aged 15+, will be interviewed with the data weighted to reflect the gender, age, and race of the metropolitan population.

“We are pleased to support the return of The Infinite Dial study in South Africa,” said John Rosso, President of Market Development at Triton Digital.  “The study will provide broadcasters, online audio publishers, podcasters, advertisers and the financial community with insightful data around South African consumption of streaming radio, online music and podcasts, as well as the usage of smart speakers and more.”

As demonstrated in the 2019 study, the continued power of broadcast media remains clear thanks mainly to its ability to keep up with and to navigate the digital world. Considering that the previous study was conducted before Covid, consumers demand and appetite for entertainment and news has grown significantly, especially through technologies and platforms that enable easier and more accessible content.

For example, United Stations’ audio streaming grew by 100% to one million streams per month across its network of radio stations and websites since the start of the pandemic* and Jacaranda FM, held the record for the most podcast downloads in a single day towards the end of 2019**.

Some of the highlights from the 2019 survey indicate that 44% of radio listening at home by the South African major metro commercial population was on a non-radio device, 39% listened to online audio in the past month and, while still in its infancy in South Africa, 22% are aware of podcasting, and 19% of the population have ever listened to a podcast.

“Technology is permanently evolving! In South Africa, the cost of data is coming down and broadband is becoming more and more accessible to the average person. Broadcast media is perfectly positioned to take advantage of these positive changes, especially in a post-Covid world,” concludes Whitaker.

“We are anticipating huge growth in these areas and we’re looking forward to viewing the shifts in digital use and how we (South Africans) now compare to international consumers when it comes to digital audio, radio, mobile, smart speaker, podcast consumption and social media.”

For more information on the BRC visit



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RAMS update from the BRC

To keep the marketing, media and advertising industry abreast of information, the Broadcast Research Council of South Africa (BRC), has released a short update on the progress of the new RAMS (Radio Audience Measurement Survey).

“The CATI (Computer Aided Telephonic Interviews) portion of RAMS is currently in field and by the end of June, we will have secured 9 000 interviews which equates to three months’ worth of data representing Q2,” says BRC’s CEO, Gary Whitaker.

“As this does not constitute the full sample size of 36 000 the BRC’s Radio Research Committee will scrutinize the data before its release to ensure that we achieve an adequate sample size per station. Subject to this scrutiny session we will be able to release the RAMS data at the end of July or beginning of August 2021.”

The methodology will be structured into two parts - firstly, 3 000 CATI (Computer Aided Telephonic Interviews) will be conducted monthly (36 000 per year and nationally representative) providing audience measurement in 15-minute segments, along with audience tracking on radio events and roadshows. The programme will cover 280 stations (commercial, African language and community).

Secondly, still to come and to track both linear and non-linear listening, a MediaCell Passive Listening Panel will measure linear broadcast and digital consumption of 4 000 panelists daily, with minute-by-minute tracking of activities.

For more information on the BRC visit

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The BRC releases Interim Radio Data

Given the previous lack of available RAMS data due to Covid, the Broadcast Research Council of South Africa (BRC), has now released an interim radio dataset (surveyed by Ask Afrika) to the industry. The need for human connection has never been greater and radio, in part, fulfils that need!

“We’re extremely pleased to report that radio listening in South Africa is still healthy after reviewing the first wave of the interim radio data,” says BRC’s CEO, Gary Whitaker. “Since Q1 2020 and our last data release, although media consumption and listening habits have fluctuated and changed, it remains important to alleviate the pressure of radio data being unavailable to the industry.”

It does however need to be stressed that comparisons between RAMS and the Interim data is not advised as the design between the two measurements differ as is the comparison of a radio currency (diary) to a non-currency methodology.

The interim data indicates that 95% of the population claim that they have ever listened to the radio and 91% of those that have ever listened, claim to have listened in the past 7 days. 92% of radio listeners claim that they listen at home, which aligns with our nation’s past and present lockdown regulations.

The average amount of radio listening time per day (Monday to Sunday) is three hours and 51 minutes, but Sundays are however the most listened to day in the week averaging out at to just under four hours. Core listening during a work week occurs between 6AM and 12PM. On a Saturday, listening extends to 6PM while on a Sunday listening is condensed between 9AM and 3PM.

Proving that radio is a trusted source of information as well as entertaining, news and music remain the content genres of choice for radio listeners while most still use radio for companionship, keeping informed and listening to talk shows.

“As a trusted media source, radio is an essential asset in media campaigns, and I believe that this survey has once again proved the value, reach and effectiveness of radio as an advertising medium – even, if not more so, in a pandemic,” concludes Whitaker. “The research is available and can be freely accessed by Telmar and Nielsen license holders.”

For more information on the BRC visit

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TAMS panel healthy and in full working order

According to the Broadcast Research Council of South Africa (BRC), the core of South African TV measurement, the TAMS (TV Audience Measurement Survey) panel, is in full working order with no reports of loss of signal on the back of the commencement of the phased switch-off of analogue television transmitters in the Free State.

“The TAMS panel continues to form the cornerstone of video audience measurement in South Africa and no irregularities have been picked up after the analogue TV signal was switched off in certain areas of the Free State a couple of months ago,” says BRC’s CEO Gary Whitaker. “The standard Nielsen quality check process evaluates every TAMS panel household daily and flags any unusual viewing behaviour.”

It is estimated that there are more than three million South African households still on the analogue television platform which has caused speculation in the marketing, media and advertising industries that the switch-off and implementation of DTT (Digital Terrestrial Television) will negatively impact the TAMS panel as panel households possibly lose access to a TV signal. However, procedures are in place to preserve the continuity and integrity of the panel.

In the case of any households losing access to TV signal due to the DTT switchover or any other any unusual viewing behaviour for that matter, Nielsen (charged with maintaining and recording of TV audience measurement) waits for three days for the anomaly to correct and then calls the household to assess the cause of change.

In tandem with the DTT rollout schedule (as indicated below), Nielsen’s call centre will communicate with Free-To-Air Households to enquire if they have received and installed the DTT decoder. Government has committed to subsidise households with a combined household income of less than R3 200 per month. Households that do not qualify for fully subsidised government decoders have an option of buying new integrated digital television (IDTV) sets that have the DTT decoding capability built in.

Whitaker confirms, “Should a TAMS panel household lose access to TV signal due to the switch off and no DTT box or decoder is installed thereafter, the household will be replaced with a lookalike household, ensuring a balanced representative panel.”

“To date, the TAMS Panel has remained in full working order with no reports of loss of signal, but to reiterate, we have continuous monitoring and procedures in place for any unusual viewing behaviour,” concludes Whitaker.

*Project timeline estimations for the phased switch-off of analogue TV transmitters by province:

  • Free State: March 2021
  • Northern Cape: April 2021
  • North West: May 2021
  • Mpumalanga: May 2021
  • Eastern Cape: May 2021
  • Kwa-Zulu Natal: July 2021
  • Western Cape: November 2021
  • Limpopo: December 2021
  • Gauteng: January 2022

Call centre number for aftercare service: 086 736 832

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The BRC to commission a more comprehensive TAMS audit

There have been rapid changes in the recent video viewing landscape exacerbated by the Covid outbreak and the resultant accelerated changes in access to alternate video services and data. In this context, it is more important than ever that the industry remains confident in the TAMS (TV Audience Measurement Survey) panel, the core of South African TV measurement!

The TAMS panel will continue to form the cornerstone of video audience measurement in South Africa as the industry moves forward on the path of including additional screens, platforms and services into Total Video (TV). To this end, the 2021 TAMS audit will be a more comprehensive and expansive audit than in previous years.

“In 2020 we planned an audit encompassing 50 household visits. Unfortunately, the audit was not conducted due to the Covid lockdown,” says BRC’s CEO Gary Whitaker. “This year, the BRC will be validating the panel and implementing 200 coincidental household checks using a remote Covid safe methodology.”

During 2020, TAMS technicians were unable to carry out their normal maintenance activities resulting in The BRC commissioning auditors 3M3A, analyzing the possible effect this would have on the panel and the data. The check was completed in July 2020 by comparing the panel data for two weeks in 2020, from January 13th to 19th and July 6th to 12th.

Overall findings determined that the panel had decreased in size from January to July by 8% from 10 727 to 9 907 with decay happening to all parts of the panel. The panel also saw the mean weight increasing slightly since there are fewer panel members to carry the universe weight. There was no significant increase in the standard deviation and the Panel Efficiency also remained the same. At that point, the panel was still deemed to be a good currency overall for TV advertising in South Africa, however a more in-depth analysis will take place by means of the upcoming audit.

The broad scope of this year’s audit will include amongst others, a technical check – viewing recording and reporting correctly as per the previous audit and ascertaining the general health of the panel. The audit will also include an environmental review; a qualitative review of factors including power supply and information on viewing on other platforms and devices. Whitaker says, “The audit report will have significant input on informing our scope for future measurement including OTT/Streaming, leading into an RFP after the audit. Zero Ratings, which is a global phenomenon brought on by increased fragmentation, continues to challenge all industry players but measurement of OTT/Streaming, amongst other planned interventions, will offer some relief.”

The audit will also include heavy analysis of the changes in the market landscape over recent years, changes to the data output as a result of adjustments to RIMS (Random Iterative Method Weighting) and the universe update to the PAMS universe estimates from the ES (Establishment Survey), more specifically Household and SEM universe estimates.

“The BRC is planning to commission the 2021 TAMS audit by the beginning of April and will run for a period of two months due to the intensive and expansive nature thereof,” concludes Whitaker. “Results of the audit will be publicised shortly thereafter.”

“We have been extremely aware of the impact the pandemic has had on all research, not only here in South Africa, but globally, and by commissioning extra surveys and checks, we will ensure that all of our data is correct, in good health, reflective of the situation and representative of the universe.”

For more information on the BRC visit

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