What is VPM (Video Player Measurement) and How Does it Work?


If you’re one of the millions of Australians that now watch hours of streaming TV on a daily basis, you probably make extensive use of the various “catch-up” services offered by the free-to-air networks, known in the industry as “BVOD” (Broadcast Video On Demand). They’re hugely popular, with usage only increasing as more and more people discover the convenience of being able to watch their shows on their own schedule, anytime, anywhere.

However, that’s been a problem when it comes to the ratings, since the clever tech that’s built into the UniTAM process only works for TV watched exactly as it was broadcast. On-demand viewing via catch-up services can mean different viewing habits and numbers, different ads and ad break lengths, and often shows that haven’t even aired on broadcast TV yet.

Introducing VPM

OzTAM identified the problem early on, and spent several years working on a solution, with the result being VPM – Video Player Measurement. And it’s quite the clever system.

VPM uses software developed by OzTAM which attaches a unique identifier to every single piece of content on a catch-up service – including live TV streams. Then when those shows are streamed, that identifier can be sent back to OzTAM accompanied by precise details on the viewing of the item.

The resulting data can break down playback of streaming content minute by minute, and show which type of device it was played on (phone, tablet, game console, computer, streaming box and so on), what platform was being used (iOS, Android etc) and the location of the device doing the playback.

OzTAM then collects and collates all this data to provide an incredibly detailed overview of exactly what people are watching on catch-up (BVOD) services all around the country. The volume of data collected is huge – in the vicinity of 100 million minutes of streamed content each day (which might sound like a lot, but by comparison, OzTAM estimates that we watch up to 4 billion minutes of broadcast TV each day!)

If you’re one of those people that reads the terms and conditions when you create an account for these catch-up services, you might have noticed some information in there about Nielsen collecting ratings info. That’s referring to VPM, but it’s nothing to be fearful of. OzTAM is unable to monitor anything else about your devices aside from which shows those apps are playing – and they cannot identify you in any way as an individual. Instead, you’re classified as an “iPhone user” and so on.

According to OzTAM, catch-up services now make up around 3 percent of all TV viewing, and that share is only growing larger as more and more people discover the convenience of catch-up, the network apps get smarter and more feature-packed, and more and more content comes to catch-up either first or exclusively.

Measuring catch-up services in this way is an OzTAM innovation that’s innovative in the world TV market, and it enables networks to get a real picture of what engages their viewers via streaming – both at home, and when out and about.

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