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Novelty, nostalgia, credibility

By CHAY FLORENTINO-HOFILEÑA

The ratings of last Monday’s (November 8 ) primetime newscasts and shows provide us rich insights into the Filipino news viewing audience, the minds of TV networks, and the cozy relationship between media and politics.

AGB Nielsen figures for Mega Manila revealed the following:

Interestingly, “Willing Willie” ran for a much longer time than the two newscasts but for the duration of “24 Oras,” which also aired longer than “TV Patrol,” the show averaged a rating of 10.3%.

Another media and market research organization, TNS or Kantar Media, listed the following ratings also for Mega Manila: GMA-7, 23.4%; ABS, 20.9%; TV5, 19.4%.

Monday’s ratings were particularly interesting because they reflected audience reaction to new attempts by the major networks to corner a wider audience share. ABS revived an old formula that worked years back and which brought it its glorious golden years.

TV Patrol's Ted Failon, Korina Sanchez and Noli de Castro (Photo from abs-cbnnews.com)

TV Patrol's Ted Failon, Korina Sanchez and Noli de Castro (Photo from abs-cbnnews.com)

GMA7's Mel Tiangco and Mike Enriquez (Photo from gmanews.tv)

GMA7's Mel Tiangco and Mike Enriquez (Photo from gmanews.tv)

TV5's Willing Willie with Willie Revillame (Photo from www.tv5.com.ph)

TV5's Willing Willie with Willie Revillame (Photo from www.tv5.com.ph)

An older looking Noli de Castro, the face of its flagship newscast then and the voice behind the popular “Magandang Gabi Bayan” of the late 1980s, was resurrected. Besides the former vice president who resisted calls to seek the presidency in the May elections, the network also brought back to the limelight a plumpish Korina Sanchez, who gave up being anchor of “Bandila” to wed vice-presidential candidate Mar Roxas last year. For the network, the two icons represented old magic.

TV5 for its part, through the rambunctious and often vulgar Willie Revillame, pulled a caper by convincing the soft-spoken, pretty and demure Shalani Soledad to get on board that same Monday. Never mind if she would co-host the show as if she were presiding over a council meeting, her being ex-future first lady had more than enough drawing power. To the network bosses, she represented novelty.

Between magic and novelty stood GMA-7 which had nothing more than the usual duo of the not-too-young-looking Mike Enriquez and Mel Tiangco. A sure sign that it was conscious of the threat posed by the aggression of the competition, the network paid for a full-page ad in a Sunday broadsheet trumpeting credibility and integrity. Otherwise there was nothing more.

TV news viewers tend to be switchers who shift channels whenever a commercial airs in the TV station they are watching. As much as possible they want to make sure they do not miss important details or stories in the newscast. Or they want to be able to compare story treatment. Ultimately, to those who care about the news, it’s still the stories that matter the most.

Ratings are a tool for decision-making, market researchers repeatedly say. Offhand, Monday’s figures seem to say that for ABS, the old formula could be past its shelf life. It does not help that de Castro is being linked to alleged irregularities in government housing loans.

Likewise, results indicate that Shalani is a curiosity as far as the TV viewing audience is concerned. She is expected to be awkward and even boring as a show host because she does not have any experience whatsoever. But a sympathetic audience could be all too willing to give her more time to grow into the role and become better at what she does.

Whether the exceptionally high ratings will be sustained after a week or a month will be worth watching because curiosities also do not have a long shelf life. In this sense, the outlook isn’t as bad for ABS. Yet it is best to run scared because while the race remains tight, TV5 through Revillame, has become a clear and potent danger.

And what of GMA-7? There appears to be sufficient reason to celebrate, just going by Monday’s numbers. “24 Oras” has a solid following that is not swayed by novelty or old magic. Without doing anything grand or dramatic, its ratings were still decent. At the same time, its lead does not allow it to be complacent.

Ratings are snapshots of audience preferences. Last Monday, viewers who are used to watching newscasts during primetime sent a strong message: Yes, we can be distracted and drawn by fanfare but we will stick to what is credible, constant, and true.

For serious journalists in whichever network, this is absolutely good news. Newsbreak, independent journalism from the Philippines

CATEGORY: Chay Florentino-Hofileña, Media
TAGS: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
  1. Based on the data sourced from Nielsen TV Audience Measurement Overnights (Arianna, MegaTAM Total individuals), TV5 indicated a remarkable increase in early primetime audience share on weeknights from 9% to over 30% within the October to November period.

    Willing Willie’s weeknights viewership gain appears to be largely from the loss of ABS-CBN and GMA primetime newscasts TV Patrol and 24 Oras, whose audience shares suffered marked declines of 15% and 22%, respectively. Prior to Willing Willie, TV Patrol posted a 36.1% share, while 24 Oras had a formidable share of 42.3%. Last November 8, however, TV Patrol garnered a 30.5% share, while 24 Oras posted 32.9%.

  2. Korina Sanchez did not give up TV Patrol last year. She gave up being an anchor of Bandila.

  3. Chay,

    I'm interested to know the comparative ratings before and after Willing Willie was introduced, and the trend in the coming weeks.

  4. Yes, you are right, Aris. Unintended slip and promptly corrected. Thanks for pointing it out.

  5. Many factors could account for this. We are checking out figures that span a wider period and which could be mined further. A follow-up should be coming up, Lui.

  6. Hi Ruben,

    Still trying to put together a more comprehensive picture. What Nov. 8 statistics show is — as pointed out — just a snapshot. A week-long or even a month-long monitor would be more instructive. Will share info soonest.

  7. Congrats to 24 Oras! The tandem of Mel and Mike is still the masa's choice simply because of their credibility and unquestioned integrity. Im sorry tv patrol but me and my family had switched already to 24 Oras..

  8. One other sign of awareness: M. Tiangco added 'walang bahid pulitika' at the end of their 'serbisyong totoo' spiel.

  9. Ratings are important not only as the fuel that allows tv news programs to operate and produce stories but also as a feedback mechanism.

    Though Willing Willie is indeed the proverbial monkeywrench thrown into the 6:30 pm timeslot we should resist the temptation of looking at WW ratings as a coup on the part of TV5.

    It would, afterall be fundamentally unfair to compare the antics of Mr. Revillame to the work of tv journalists.

    If on the other hand it was TV5's news programs racking up the impressive ratings then that would be a war really worth fighting. Otherwise why fret?

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