by Inge Hansen (@mecnotabene) What with the SAARF TAMS contract having now come to an end, the industry has seen a TAMS panel universe update under the newly formed Broadcast Research Council of South Africa (BRCSA), created to service the audience research needs of the radio and television industry.

While still awaiting its formal registration as an NPO, an industry roadshow was undertaken in March 2015 to update the industry on the health of the current TAMS panel and present the data changes that occurred with the 2014A Universe update on 2 February 2015.

Broadcast Research Council of South Africa (Broadcast Research Council of South Africa (BRCSA)

Good news

The good news is that, following the panel expansion that began in 2013 — as well as adjustments to panel tenure and other multiple factors — the weighting efficiency of our panel is currently sitting at 78% (February 2015) above global best practice of 70%.

This brings with it data stability, with the maximum daily weight for individuals also dropping from 99 000, in some cases, to a maximum of 25 000. Weighting efficiency refers to a statistical measure that indicates how closely the sample proportions match the Universe proportions, as well as the complexity of the weighting system.

Other changes

So what are the other changes that we are seeing?

One of the major effects of the above is the drop in the average time viewed across channels. This is because that, in order to increase panel efficiency, households which had been on the panel for 10+ years, which were older in age and heavier TV viewers, have been removed. New households added to the panel are generally younger and tend to be lighter TV viewers, resulting in a drop of -9.8% year-on-year for average time viewed across both Pay and FTA Networks.

With viewing habits changing, in order to see the impact that other TV activities (ie streaming, watching DVDs) are having, the BRCSA will soon be offering a new reporting measurement that can split total screen share and total broadcast share. This will enable the industry to see at what rate these other activities are growing, and the effects on traditional broadcast television.

The data also reveals an increase in the household universe of 1.5% (192 735 households) and individuals have increased by 0.86% (371 019 individuals).


DStv penetration continues to grow and has increased by 14% since the last update (2 million individuals), with Compact Bouquet sales contributing heavily to this and shifting audiences away from free-to-air programming. It is important to note, however, that as TAMS uses last year’s audited subscriber figures for its DStv universe, this data has a lag of roughly a year and therefore penetration continues to be understated.

The largest change that can be seen is in the increase of LSM 1-4 individuals, which can largely be attributed to a revamping of LSM variables and adverse economic factors. As a knock-on effect, we see a decline in other LSMs, with LSM 5 (-2.4%) and LSM 10 (-9%) being particularly affected, which will have implications for ratings in these segments. In addition, although in recent months we have seen a decrease in Afrikaans programming from stations, there is an uplift of 4.87% for Afrikaans speaking individuals.

The flux that we see within our LSM segmentation, which is easily shifted with our ever-changing socio-economic climate, does prove a challenge for the continuation of data. The BRCSA has advised that it is looking into alternate measurements and global best practice as a result, as it is clear— due to continuous fluctuation and incorrect reporting — that income would not be a stable measure.

Other planned improvements

Other planned improvements from the research council include better measurement during loadshedding periods, with Unitam meters now being able to report activity through battery back-ups.

Ultimately, the effect on everyday planning in terms of the Universe update depends on whether your plan includes the more heavily affected areas ie LSM1-4. As notice of the upcoming universe change had been delayed, there was limited time to incorporate any thinking into TV plans made for early 2015, with SABC EBD having closed on 5 December 2014.

Going forward, as the industry received from SAARF, the BRCSA will continue to compile a comprehensive list of outside factors that influence campaign outcomes, such as news and sporting events, which can be found on its website.

Set a good grounding

Taking these into account — along with scheduling changes (such as we have seen from recently), as well as the performance and knock-on effect of new local shows ie Ashes to Ashes — will set a good grounding for planning in these interesting times for television.


Inge HansenFollowing two years at Media24 scrubbing for insights within the magazine division, Inge Hansen joined Nota Bene as an A&I analyst in March 2013. Working across multiple clients, including FMCG, alcohol and petroleum, she has the luxury of working with teams to develop robust insights that drive strategy while keeping abreast of media trends the world over. Inge loves having her pulse on the media landscape but far prefers raising her pulse mountain-biking on weekends. She contributes Thinking TV, a monthly analysis of South African TV viewership figures, to MarkLives. Follow @mecnotabene for regular media updates.

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