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Astro boss ‘running out of patience’ over plan for unified measurement currency in Malaysia

Henry Tan, the COO of Malaysian media giant Astro, said today that he was “running out of patience” with industry stakeholders over a proposed plan to launch a single TV measurement system.

Henry Tan talking at CASBAA Convention 2016

Henry Tan talking at CASBAA Convention 2016

Astro launched an alternative metric to Nielsen’s long-running but widely criticised TAM measurement system in July 2015, and Tan said at the CASBAA Convention in Macau today that a supposed move to unify the two has been put on ice.

The outspoken executive was asked by the audience if Malaysia really needed two measurements systems – a cause for complaint among media buyers who now have a more complicated job booking TV campaigns.

Tan responded that that was a question “for the industry as a whole to answer.”

“I’ve already said my piece to the industry. We need to be doing what is best for the country. To be blunt, it’s more than a year since we met with Media Prima [Malaysia’s largest free-to-air broadcaster] and the so-called industry heavyweights.”

“In that meeting, they asked if we could work towards a single currency. My reply was yes, you work out the currency, we’re all for it. But can you give us a timeline for doing this?”

“It’s been more than a year, and I’m really running out of patience,” he said.

Tan said that Astro’s DTAM measurement system, which uses return path data from digital set top boxes measured by Kantar Media, could feasibly be merged with Nielsen’s system.

He also asserted that the intention behind Astro’s system was not for the company to win more share of advertising spend, but to improve upon a system he has regularly attacked for being flawed, mainly because of its small sample size.

“Research always lags market realities. The question is how far behind it is,” he said.

“The industry has been saying for a long time how unhappy it is with the [TV measurement] currency. But the problem is, people keep complaining and do nothing about it,” he said.

“The sad part is, that the more we talk about it without taking action, the more backward we’re becoming.”

“We want the RTP [return path data system] to evolve to become an all-encompassing, multi-platform measurement system,” he said, referring to the need to upgrade DTAM by including consumption on OTT platforms, increasingly popular in Malaysia.

On the company’s performance, Tan said he was not satisfied with how Astro’s OTT services were taking off, saying that he wanted to “triple or quadruple our performance” with internet-delivered services.

But he suggested that, compared to the other OTT operators in Malaysia such as Netflix, Viu and Iflix, Astro is winning in terms of content consumption.

“It’s very important with OTT that you don’t just look at the raw numbers. You need to look at the time your customers are spending consuming your content.”

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