The first ratings report after the launch of City’s local programs is out, and so we can finally say which of the two local English morning shows has won the first ratings battle.
As it turns out, neither. They’re tied. Though both of them are far behind CTV’s Toronto-based Canada AM, which has three times more viewers in Montreal than the other two shows combined.
I have some analysis of ratings, and some quotes from the various parties, in this story, which appears in Friday’s Gazette.
But let’s get into some detail.
The morning show war
Here are the official numbers of estimated viewers, in the Montreal extended English market, as confirmed by BBM Canada:
- Canada AM (CTV): 15,000
- Morning News (Global): 2,700
- Breakfast Television (City): 2,400
So Global has a slight edge here, though considering the ballpark-ness of the ratings measurement system, it would be safer to say they’re tied. (And both Global and City describe them as “neck and neck”.) The numbers also show that there’s a slight edge for BT in the adults 25-54 demographic, but again let’s just consider them tied.
This is good news for both. Global recovers from an embarrassing first book, which was measured weeks after launch and showed only 500 viewers on average. The new figure is low, but at least respectable. As is the fact that Global has achieved the same ratings as a competitor with far more resources (including three times the staff).
City, meanwhile, has already caught up with Global despite the latter having a seven-month head start. Executive Producer Bob Babinski also points out that Global’s show is on an established Montreal station that benefits more from promotion during primetime. Babinski says based on what he sees through other metrics like social media, the popularity of the morning show is growing fast.
But Canada AM, which comes out of Toronto and airs on Eastern Canada CTV stations and on CTV News Channel, is still king. Whether that’s because viewers are still unaware of the local competitors or because they prefer the high-quality production of a national morning show, we’ll just have to wait and see.
No major changes on the evening side. CTV News at 6pm still rules the market with 107,800 average viewers and an exceptional 57% share. CBC shows 13,200 viewers on average from 5 to 6:30pm, and it continues to be stronger from 5 to 6 than after 6, when it faces competition from both CTV and Global. It has 14,000 viewers at 5, 16,000 viewers at 5:30 and only 10,000 viewers at 6. Global picks up the rear once again with 7,700 viewers overall, though station manager Karen Macdonald points out that Global beats CBC among viewers 25-54 in that half-hour.
No big changes for local news at other time periods either.
I’m waiting to get numbers for some of the other local programs that have started up in the past year. Montreal Connected, the weekly sports show on City, doesn’t have a number to report because it shifted time slots during the ratings measurement.
Montreal moving to PPM system
This will be the second-last report of Montreal English TV ratings under the current system of written diaries. Another survey begins in a few weeks, and will be published May 6 (so stay tuned for more special reports on the local news in February and March).
Starting in September, English Montreal TV moves to the Portable People Meter. The device, which looks like a pager that people wear at all times during the day, records inaudible tones that air with TV and radio programming, which allows it to know exactly what people are watching or listening to, taking all the guesswork and faulty memories out of ratings measurement. They also report daily to BBM Canada, while they’re charging overnight.
Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary and Toronto already report TV ratings using the PPM system, as does a separate national panel with viewers across the country. French-language television in Montreal is also measured using PPMs, as is radio here in both languages. Why it made sense for English radio to be measured using PPMs but not television I’m still not entirely sure.
PPMs are more expensive to administer than written diaries, which is the main reason they’re not universally used. Because BBM Canada is owned by its members, it’s up to those members (broadcasters and advertising agencies) to decide whether to pay the extra money to switch over. The launch of City here might have been the catalyst for making the switch.
The PPMs will make a big difference. Their implementation in radio has already shown that more people are listening than was previously thought. And the daily feedback will be much more useful than reports only twice a year, though it will undoubtedly create more stress for station managers.