By Patrick O'Donnell & Hou Xiaoying
China.org.cn correspondents reporting from Beijing
During a press conference Thursday afternoon in Beijing, AGB Nielsen, a leading media research company, discussed their plan to measure the size of the television audience of the Beijing Olympic Games.
Dr. Alberto Colussi, chairman of AGB Nielsen's management board, said that his company will be measuring audiences in 38 countries on five continents.
"Besides our international role, this time we are going for a role here in China," he said.
Colussi said that AGB Nielsen began measuring television audiences in China in 2005, but were restricted to a few major urban areas. He said he helped the company look outside these areas to learn more about the viewing habits of the Chinese countryside.
"Now we are measuring 10 provinces for a total of 660 million people," he said.
According to Colussi, AGB Nielsen gained valuable experience in measuring audience size during the Athens games in 2004 and the Sydney games in 2000.
Instead of providing national data, the company will release data by province. Colussi said it will be interesting to see how the viewing habits of one region of China differ from others.
He said the data gathered from non-urban areas will be especially valuable, as the Chinese countryside has yet to be studied in great detail.
Dr. Alberto Colussi
"If you have only urban data, you have only a little vision, you see only in the city," he said. "You don't see what's around. And that was a limitation."
He believes that China, as the host of the 2008 Olympics, will see a great increase in its domestic television audience.
Colussi also spoke about the nature of investment in the Olympics. He said that sponsorship of the Games is not a commercial investment, but rather a prestige investment. Advertisers and sponsors improve their image by being associated with a major global event.
AGB Nielsen usually sells the data it collects to television stations, so they can set their advertising rates, and to advertising agencies, so they can determine the demographic they are targeting.
However, during the Olympics, Colussi said that AGB Nielsen will release some general data from the Olympics for free, as a way to showcase his company's services. If organizations want more detailed information, such as audience gender and age, they can pay AGB Nielsen to arrange a package.
"This is quite a challenge for our company," he said. "But it is a challenge that we have faced in previous years and we have resolved it successfully."
(China.org.cn June 6, 2008)