Because everyone wants to know how many people watch Serie A on Dazn

Because everyone wants to know how many people watch Serie A on Dazn

Advertising investments and revenues for the clubs of the football league depend on the number of spectators. But there is a battle of numbers between Auditel and Nielsen

Lautaro Martinez of Inter (photo by Nicolò Campo / Sipa Usa / Ipa) Dazn is in the eye of the storm because in the world of televised football you are not allowed to go wrong on quality of service, numbers and mechanisms that keep the cabin going. The English club, which managed to grab the coveted Serie A rights for 840 million euros a year for the next three years, seems to have stumbled on all three of the most important fronts of the service.

Criticalities that emerged during the live streaming of various league matches he gives an accurate account on social networks, specialized sites and sports newspapers. Every week the scenario seems to improve, but if at the 86th minute of Napoli-Juventus everything packs up (“Spike of two minutes, a peak of accesses“) right on the goal of Koulibaly's advantage, Dazn ends up under a shower of arrows.

But net of streaming, the main problem concerns the audience numbers, which then influence the advertising mechanisms. From August 21, the first day of the championship, Dazn was put under an atomic microscope because for the audience analysis he decided to rely on Nielsen instead of Auditel.

The war of numbers

On August 31, Dazn communicated the audience data relating to the first two Serie A championship days. "The first day of the championship, 21-23 August 2021, was followed by over 4.3 million individuals who connected through smart TVs, tablets, mobile phones, game consoles and through the Dazn Channel", reads the note . "The growth trend was confirmed during the second day, 27-29 August 2021, when an audience of 4.7 million was recorded".

A parallel between matches considering different seasons and detection methods But these numbers have raised some perplexities. First of all, because it is usually easier to analyze a single match than a magma of aggregated data. And secondly, because while Auditel is a Joint Industry Committee and certifies the data, Nielsen "limits itself" to an audit. The well-known multinational of Dutch origin is a global reference reality for the detection of trends, data and analysis, but in Italy Auditel has built an undisputed leadership over the years on television audiences. And to think that in 2003, when Sky Italia started the engines, it seemed that Auditel was having difficulty in precisely detecting the audience compared to traditional channels. After more than 18 years everything has been solved, but with the advent of streaming someone has raised doubts again.

The Dazn system

The British group claims to rely on "new methodology measurement which, for the first time, provides timely and verified data on the over-the-top audience ". In practice Nielsen, as reiterated yesterday during a workshop with the press organized by Dazn, exploits three sources of information: the Dazn census data measured by Conviva Stream Sensor (a reference technology in the sector), used to produce the total display metrics editorial and advertising content; the data from the Auditel TV panel, used to estimate co-viewing and the demographics of the TV component of listening; data from the Dazn user-based behavioral study, used for co-vision estimation and demographics of the web, mobile and tablet component.

"Nielsen, after collecting data with different characteristics from these three sources, through data processing algorithms and statistical models, it harmonises them to measure the use of content from any type of screen, producing a total data, verified by Nielsen itself, which is available to market operators who purchase access to the platform ", explains to Wired Marco Nazzari, CEO of Nielsen Italia.

The Dazn measurement scheme verified by Nielsen The methodology - which is unique in the world and potentially usable in other competitions and in other countries - should offer a complete overview ratings, both from the Dazn app and the Dazn Channel. Specifically, the data include: minute-by-minute audience, average audience and coverage for the editorial component; listening to advertising relating to each spot aired; type of device used to use Dazn content (TV, web, mobile and tablet); aggregate audience data profiled by gender and age (for now based on Auditel, but from December 2021 also those on the web, mobile and tablet provided by Nielsen).

A curious detail is that in the television audience segment from the very first hour Auditel has entrusted a large part of the work to Nielsen, which deals with "data collection, processing and distribution".

Nielsen also works for Auditel

The weight of the devices " alternative ”

Following the first two days of the championship, the experts found the data released by Dazn and Auditel on the table. Something was wrong. Through confidential sources, Wired discovered that according to Auditel data the Juventus-Empoli match (28 August), exclusively on Dazn, had an average of 444,055 spectators, while for Nielsen the correct figure would be 1,083,733. br>
The audience of Dazn lasts the first few days, in relation to the devices According to the experts, the difference is linked to the fact that the Auditel panel only covers listening from the television screen and not that on digital screens such as smartphones , tablet, Fire tv, Chromecast, Tim Vision box, pc. It also does not consider second homes, which in fact during the holiday period could have influenced the final calculation. According to sources, Dazn would have enjoyed in these days an audience composed of 60/70% of smart TV via app and the remaining 30% from other devices. Verona-Inter (27 August), broadcast simultaneously by Dazn and Sky, also recorded different data. Auditel has respectively recognized the two realities an average audience of 753,624 and 236,276 spectators, while Dazn has detected only for itself 674 thousand. Andrea Cerasoli, vice president of Media for Southern Europe at Dazn admitted that it is "a path that can be perfected", with which they feel "fully satisfied".

Auditel already at work

Since December 16, 2018 Auditel has added a census collection system to the sample collection system (the so-called system for the detection of digital devices). It has in fact installed directly in the players, with which the broadcasters (currently Discovery, La 7, Mediaset, Rai and Sky) deliver their content, a digital tag that measures "the use of any editorial or advertising content issued and actually enjoyed by a individual ". But, he warns, only "a series of evolutionary steps (already planned) will allow the cross between the data of the sample system and the data of the census system, generating the so-called total audience". In short, Auditel in the future will be able to ensure "univocal and homogeneous metrics, which will be made available both with digital standards and with traditional television standards".

Who cares about the data?

Audience data not only serve to establish the balance of power in this industrial segment but also to condition the choices of the advertising market. The trade association Upa (Associated advertising users), which holds 20% of Auditel, should publish a handbook for advertisers by the end of the month with the suggestion to use certified metrics for data relating to audience, access and sales.

In this sense that of Dazn could risk being excluded since Nielsen today is limited to a verification and is not a certification. A question of apparent goat wool which, however, counts very much in the official sphere. Especially if we consider another detail that the Lega Calcio brings into play: the division of revenues due to TV viewing between the 20 Serie A teams.

The Lotti decree of 2018

It is necessary return to March 2018, when the then Minister of Sport Luca Lotti (Renzi government) signs a provision of the Sport Package which was then inserted into the budget law that modifies the Melandri law as part of the division of revenues generated by Serie A television rights. The text envisages dividing 50% among all the teams and thus sharing the other half: 30% based on sporting results and 20% based on the catchment area. This last slice - estimated at 100 million euros - is influenced for 8% by the television audience, certified exclusively by Auditel. This is why today it becomes important to establish exactly the balance of power between the teams in relation to the use in streaming on alternative devices and to solve the difference in analysis of Nielsen and Auditel.

In practice it could be more complicated than in the past to define exactly the distribution of that 8%. The Communications Authority (Agcom) on 9 September launched an investigation (of which Dazn has not yet received official communication) to verify the discrepancies between the Nielsen and Auditel methods, the lack of certification of Dazn data (Nielsen takes care of the validation), the method of calculating the web audience and the lack of public access to the data validated by Nielsen.

Yesterday the president of Agcom Giacomo Lasorella, in a hearing at the Transport Commission of the Chamber, confirmed the objective is "to verify the way in which the audiences of Serie A matches are measured to ascertain the reliability of the given product". According to Lasorella, the country’s network infrastructure has withstood the impact of live streaming overall. The critical issues that emerged in the dissemination of the service would also be in the process of being resolved and the customer service charters in relation to transparency, indemnities, complaints and assistance would also be improved.

"The challenge is the measurement of the so-called total audience , avoiding the overlap of several metrics ", underlined the president of Agcom:" The methodology of Dazn does not appear adequate to the indications we have produced ". The problem of reliable and certified metrics will also concern Amazon Prime, which also made its debut last night with the Champions League Inter-Real Madrid match.

In conclusion

Dazn's data are correct ? In principle it would seem so and the confirmation also comes from several sources close to Dazn's competitors. The CEO of Publitalia (Mediaset) Stefano Sala told Il Sole 24 Ore that "Dazn is a constructive provocation for the market". After that, the first two days of the championship are not enough to determine the renewed unbalanced scenario on Internet distribution. The return to normality for millions of Italians and the quality of streaming will affect Dazn's subscription campaign and the effects on the audience. It will be good to redo the calculations in late autumn.

The issue of the distribution of revenues is different, which in fact, according to the Lotti standard, requires Auditel certification. It is true that three years ago live streaming in football was not yet considered a market option. There are two ways: to confirm the obligation to use Auditel or to adopt additional tools. Dazn will adapt at that point.

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