Saturday, June 10, 2006

Football fever increases world's population! the only conclusion i could come to when i read that:

That's right.About 5 times what we thought the world's population was. And it's not a typo. The mailer i got had the same headline and older articles by the same team have even more astounding estimates like there were 54 billion viewers for the National Games in China.

Now, one might just dismiss this as repeated cases of careless reporting/editing. I don't think so. This is a classic case of an attempt to inflate figures to make them look impressive. Without even considering the fact that the headli
ne just does not make sense.
So, here's what's happenning. Imagine just 100 people on planet earth of which 2 were interested in watching World Cup on TV. Each of them ends up seeing all 64 scheduled games. So the question is how many viewers are there in all. 2? Wrong. As per the above article. Should be 128 according to it. The 128 (= 64 x 2) is a not-too-often-used metric in media planning called Gross Impressions. As the name implies, GIs simply sum up the total number of expsoures received by viewers. And it's certainly not equal to 'no. of viewers'!
GIs are equivalent to the term 'Cumulative Audiences'. The problem with GIs is that it's difficut to relate to. So if, i just told you that the "gross impressions for WC was 128" it would be difficult for you to come to any conclusion. Specifically, is it 64 people who've watched an average of 2 matches or 2 people who've watched all 64 matches? Which is really the question a marketer and media planner would be interested in.
Now, i have no problem if GIs are used. But is it mentioned anywhere in this article that these were GIs and not 'no. of viewers'? No. Which is why i think it's a case of data misrepresentation. Now, one defence that is often used when such cases are pointed out to the party (not this particular one) is that "C'mon...everyone knows that 30 billion is not 'no. of viewers". Ok. So what is it then? And why did you put that as a title? Especially when you know that this article is going to be read by media practioners who would anyway be comfortable with the terms.
Now, here's the good news. Check today's headline out by the same team:

and somewhere down the middle this...notice what happens to our 30 billion figure:

Now that's the right way to report these numbers! Notice clearly the '1.5 billion viewers' (which of course, contradicts the earlier '30 Bn. viewers' thing) as opposed to a 'cumulative global audience of 32.5 billion'. Good work, Ashwin Pinto - in case you didn't notice that's his name in the above article's byline.
and these are the original links: