TV-audience monitoring boxes have been installed in 560 homes in the UAE, despite some consumers' worries about both privacy and piracy.
Television measurement system ready to go in UAE
Set-top TV measurement boxes have been installed in more than 500 homes in the UAE and the system is due to start testing next month.
The boxes have been installed under a national plan to measure TV audiences more accurately. The information collected will help media agencies allocate their advertising spending more effectively, as well as television broadcasters looking to schedule programmes at the appropriate time.
Christopher O'Hearn, the project manager of the Emirates Media Measurement Company, said the new system had been branded "tview".
"We're up to 560 homes out of [a planned] 800," said Mr O'Hearn, who added an average of five people per household would use the system.
The long-awaited measurement system will start testing on July 10, before statistics are made available to media and advertising companies in October.
"We're probably talking about the middle of Ramadan for the beta results," said Mr O'Hearn. "October is when we are targeting for a launch to subscribers."
The UAE's National Media Council and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) are leading the project, with media companies including Abu Dhabi Media, which also owns and publishes The National, Dubai Media Incorporated and Sharjah Media also on board. Etisalat, du and Kantar Media are also part of the agreement to develop the system.
Mohammed Al Ghanim, the director general of the TRA, said the project would cost Dh70 million (US$19m) to set up and run over five years.
* Ben Flanagan