Frequently asked Questions

Why do we need a TV audience measurement system?

TV broadcasters and their sales houses, advertisers and agencies interact in the trade of TV advertising time. In order to make sure that media planning, sales and purchase are all based on the factual performance of TV programs, a common audience currency” is needed. SMMC has commissioned GfK with the continuous electronic measurement of the TV viewing behavior in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, starting 2015. It represents the official TV audience currency in the Kingdom and meets the requirements of a transparent, reliable and innovative TV audience measurement system.

How are the TV panel households selected?

Building a representative panel means knowing the universe – the population in a country – very precisely. The information about demographic dimensions such as (but not limited to) age, gender or education, complemented by detailed information about the TV equipment in the homes is taken from an initial “Establishment Survey”, carried out by GfK and based on a representative sample of 27,000 households. Quotas for the Establishment Survey sample for regions, nationality and type of housing were taken from official statistics from CDSI. Apart from the target structure for the panel, the Establishment Survey sample serves as the source for the selection the 2,000 households of the GfK panel.

How is the population calculated and represented on the TAM panel?

The research universe consists of the marketable population living in private households on the territory of Saudi Arabia, including nationals and expatriates (both Arabs and foreign) taking the Kingdom as their permanent place of residence. Excluding the non-marketable population, the total population or universe in KSA comprises 26.1* million individuals and 4.7 million households. The TV panel is a model of the marketable population in KSA and consists of 10,500 individuals in 2,000 panel households. This means that every panel member represents 2,500 individuals of the population. Excluded as “non-marketable population” are people in labor camps, housemaids and similar expatriates.

What information is known about the panel household members?

A lot of different information about a panel member is necessary to get a solid picture of the individual that is viewing a TV program and to find out more about “who” is TV.

How is the information about the panel members kept confidential?

SMMC has commissioned a globally trusted market research company – GfK – to introduce the TV audience measurement in KSA. No one else than a dedicated team within GfK knows who is a panel member. GfK underlies a strict data protection policy based on very rigid safeguarding procedures. Every participant can be sure that its data remain unknown to anyone outside the panel management team of GfK.

Do panel members get paid?

As a thank you for their participation panel members take part in an incentive system that rewards their degree of collaboration.

What age group in the panel is reported by TAM?

TV audience research in the KSA refers to individuals aged 4+ years. Apart from this, the reporting system allows flexible segmentation of age groups.

Can anyone join or volunteer to become a panel member?

It is not possible to apply to become a panel member. In order to avoid any bias from self-selection, GfK follows a strict recruitment process that is based on a random selection method. This ensures that the panel is non-biased and representative of the research universe.

How long do the panel members serve?

Panel members can stay in the panel as long as they wish. The intention is to have a minimum turnover of 25% per year to allow GfK to keep the panel up-to-date and to adapt it constantly to the trends in an evolving TV market.

Can panel members go on holiday? And what happens to the data?

Of course, panel members can leave for holidays as always. Participants are supposed to continue to live their normal daily life. In case of holidays, panel members are kindly requested inform the GfK helpdesk about their absence.

How does a panel member contact the helpdesk?

For any questions panel members shall exclusively contact GfK. This can be done by email ( or phone (Tel xxx – xxxxx). The GfK helpdesk for panel members is happy to answer every kind of questions that might come up in terms of your participation in the GfK TV panel.

HHow is TAM installed and what is it connected to?

GfK has a network of qualified technicians to install the metering technology in the panel homes. The GfK meter technology consists of a small box with a display and a remote control. Each TV set in the household is connected to a dedicated GfK meter. Also included in the measurement are connected devices such as DVD players, PVRs, game consoles and the like.

How does the TAM system know who is watching and when?

Along with the GfK meter technology the household gets a special GfK remote control. On this remote control every household member has his dedicated button to register as a viewer (push-button-system). When the TV set is switched on, the display asks the individuals in the room to log themselves in by pushing their respective buttons on the GfK remote control, respectively to log out of the system when they leave the room. Also guests can be registered in the same way as there are dedicated buttons for guests on the GfK remote control.

How does the GfK technology work and report the collected data?

The GfK meter technology makes it as easy as possible for the household. As soon as a TV set is switched on, the GfK meter registers automatically the channels viewed and all switching events. The so collected data is being transmitted overnight from the GfK meter to the GfK data center – also automatically without any further effort from the household.

Does TAM work on PVR, catch-up services, on demand or PPV?

VCR, DVDR and PVR playback is measured and can be reported, if it takes place within 7 days of the original broadcast. This time-shift viewing is then included in the final audience ratings, available 8 days after the original transmission date.

What happens if the TV isn’t switched off all night and stays on one channel?

Every new panel member is instructed how to handle the push-button-system and is requested to comply to it. GfK carries out numerous quality and plausibility controls and will contact households with unusual patterns in order to check, if this is genuine viewing behavior or not.

When is the data from TAM collated?

The data collected by the GfK meters during a TV day is stored in the meter devices and transmitted to the GfK data center overnight starting at 3:00 am in the morning. The data transfer is accomplished in a so-called “Data Call In” procedure operated from the GfK data center in Riyadh. As soon as the data transfer is finished, the data production, weighting and projection can start. At 10:00 am, the TV market is provided with the overnight reports on the previous day.

What is Evogenius and why is it used?

Evogenius is GfK´s comprehensive product suite for TAM operations. Evogenius Production includes internal tools for the GfK team to operate the TAM system including data production, panel maintenance and TV monitoring. Evogenius Advertising, - Reporting and - Web are end-user tools for media planning and reporting.

How many channels are referenced/monitored in the KSA using TAM?

The GfK TAM system is able to process an unlimited number of TV channels and can be adapted to the requirements of the TV market of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Additional TV channels can be included in the GfK system at extra cost.

How were the referenced channels selected?

The initial selection of channels was based on their relevance in terms of audience and advertising funded broadcasting. The initial selection was an elimination process between the stakeholders and GfK and will be reviewed from time to time based on the same principles. In the long run, SMMC wishes to expand the number of channels according to the demand from the market and will actively pursue this.

Can channels be added?

The main principles for the addition or replacement of channels are their relevance in terms of audience and advertising funded broadcasting. If a channel turns out to be attracting significant audience then the stakeholders may decide to replace an existing channel by a new channel or to add a new channel. In order to keep the system stable such adjustments are supposed to happen only together with the agreed frequency of the revision procedures.

What information is available on channels?

The viewing behavior data collected by the GfK meter is reported in time-bands across the day. In addition, for the main channels, GfK collects information on their broadcasted content. This information, which includes grids with detailed broadcast timings, program name and genre, is matched to the measured data on viewing behavior in order to generate performance metrics for specific program, ad breaks or commercials.

How is television viewing defined?

Panel members are defined to be viewing when they are present in a room with a television set switched on. Based on the individual viewing time, several specific performance metrics can be computed.

How is the audience for a program calculated?

There are different metrics to describe the performance of a program. One key performance metric is the „rating“. The rating represents the average audience of a program during the entire duration of this program. A rating is provided either as an absolute figure or in percent. Each individual is considered with his individual duration of viewing a program:
TV rating in % = individual viewing time of the program ./. total duration of the program x 100

How is the audience for a commercial calculated?

The audience of a commercial is represented by the “rating”. A rating is provided either as an absolute figure or in percent. Each individual is considered with his individual duration of viewing a commercial

TV rating in % = individual viewing time of the commercial ./. total duration of the commercial x 100

What does TAM mean by ratings, share etc…?

The GfK TAM system in KSA uses the same metrics that are common in all major TV markets. The most important of such metrics deal with the size of the audience of an event (rating) or with the share that a certain event has in the total TV audience at that time (audience share) or with the average viewing time of a certain event (viewing time). “Events” can be programs, ad breaks or single commercials. A glossary of definitions will be available for all users.

What details are recorded and reported?

The GfK meters connected to the TV sets collect which channels are on the TV screen for how long. In addition the individuals in the TV panel households register with a special remote control who was present in the room with the TV set switched on. By merging this data it is possible to report audiences for specific target groups – e.g. based on age, gender or other demographic variables – and to assess which programs appeal more to specific parts of the population.

Why is this data important for advertisers and MBUs?

For the first time in KSA, advertisers and MBUs can analyze ratings not only for programs and channels but also for ad breaks and commercials. The TV ratings are important for advertisers and MBUs as the basis for media planning and performance control of the purchased TV advertising time. The GfK TV audience currency makes sure that media planning, media sales and purchase of advertising time in KSA are all based on the same common metrics. In this way the GfK reporting tools allow to analyze the performance of TV advertising based on universal metrics such as gross rating point (GRP), net reach or opportunities to see (OTS). So advertisers and MBUSs cannot only plan and optimize their TV campaigns, but also find their specific target groups to focus on.

Why is this data important for broadcasters?

For broadcasters this data is essential as the basis for the performance control of their broadcasted content and the planning and adjustment of their daily program grids. In addition, all relevant metrics such as (but not limited to) ratings, audience shares or viewing time are available not only on a program level but also for very granular time segments within a program which helps broadcasters to constantly improve their offered content.

How are program audiences calculated?

The key audience metric is the „rating“. The rating represents the average audience of a program during the entire duration of this program. A rating is provided either as an absolute figure or in percent. Each individual is considered with his individual duration of viewing a program:
TV rating in % = individual viewing time of the program ./. total duration of the program x 100

How do we know TAM is accurate?

Like it is common ground in all market research the GfK TAM system is based on collecting the relevant data from a representative sample of households and the individuals therein. The results from the sample are projected to the universe – in this case the marketable population of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia – and are thus subject to some margin of error. The TV panel in KSA of 2.000 households however provides an excellent ratio of population by sample size. Based on global standards for best practice, set-up and operations of the GfK TAM system are independently and continuously reviewed and audited by auditor CESP, commissioned by SMMC.

What is TAM?

TAM is the Television Audience Measurement that is provided by SMMC in Saudi Arabia

SMMC has contracted two international organizations to carryout the TAM project in Saudi Arabia

CESP: the auditing and consulting partner for TAM

GfK: the technical provider carrying out the TAM project

What is a TAM Panel?

“TAM” stands for “TV Audience Measurement” which means the electronic measurement of TV viewing behavior by means of special metering technology. Representative data on TV consumption is obtained on the basis of a panel of randomly selected households representing the population of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The GfK TAM panel comprises 2,000 panel households with approximately 10,500 individuals aged 4 or over. Sophisticated statistical methods allow a precise projection from selected households to the universe – the population of the KSA.