What is the full form of CEC

"Secure access to data from all streaming providers for KEK"

by Helmut Hartung on March 15th, 2021 in Current Topics, Digital Media, Communication Studies, Media Regulations, Media Policy, Media Law, Media Regulation, Media Studies

Prof. Dr. Georgios Gounalakis, Chairman of the Commission to Determine Concentration in the Media Sector (KEK)

Questions about the report on the recording of usage of video streaming offers

03/15/2021. Interview with Prof. Dr. Georgios Gounalakis, Chairman of the Commission to Determine Concentration in the Media Sector (KEK), Professorship for Civil Law, International Private Law, Comparative Law and Media Law, Philipps University of Marburg

Video streaming offers are increasingly shaping the media landscape. In the form of live streaming it is broadcasting, in the non-linear form of video-on-demand (VoD) there is a clear similarity to linear television. Linear television has so far been at the center of regulation under media concentration law. In contrast, there is a lack of comprehensive collection and reporting of usage data with regard to video streaming offers. Streaming providers generally have measurement data that can be used for recording usage in accordance with media concentration law. However, uniform standards for data collection are required for cross-provider comparability of the data. In addition, a legal regulation is required through which the KEK is given access to this data. These are some of the findings from the report “Approaches to recording the usage of video streaming offers”, which the Fraunhofer Institute for Open Communication Systems FOKUS (Berlin) prepared on behalf of the Commission for Determining Concentration in the Media Sector (KEK). The reviewers recommend striving for a full technical survey and enriching it with a representative panel. Total video usage could thus be shown.

medienpolitik.net: Mr. Gounalakis, what relevance do streaming offers have for media use?

Gounalakis: If you look at the development - not only in Germany, but especially internationally - it becomes clear that enormous sums of money are being made in the field of video streaming and that great efforts are being made to inspire viewers for the respective offers. The KEK has already shown in its 21st annual report under the topic "International concentration processes in the media sector" that companies such as Netflix, Amazon, Google, Facebook and Apple are increasingly competing with traditional media companies, especially in the video sector. Younger users in particular are reducing linear television consumption in favor of on-demand content from streaming services. This was also made clear by the KEK in the above-mentioned report in the article “The future of linear television”. In any case, video streaming is of considerable strategic importance. The effects of streaming usage on traditional television can be roughly estimated, but not yet quantified. There are sometimes very different surveys and statements on this. Therefore, the KEK obtained an expert opinion in order to have the Fraunhofer Institute for Open Communication Systems FOKUS investigate approaches to recording the usage of video streaming offers.

medienpolitik.net: How and by whom have the ranges been recorded so far?

Gounalakis: There are several studies and surveys on streaming video usage. Practically all streaming providers as well as the large market research companies as well as AGF video research collect usage data from video streaming offers. But many smaller providers and research units are also dealing with this topic. On the one hand, this leads to many very different survey methods and also the aims of surveys. At the same time, however, there is currently no complete and regularly updated “market overview”. The AGF Smart Meter approach has recently attracted greater attention, in which, in addition to the existing streaming measurement, the viewing time of selected streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and YouTube is also measured on SmartTVs using measurement router technology.

medienpolitik.net: Why is the AGF video research data insufficient?

Gounalakis: The AGF has been making a lot of effort for a long time in order to be able to report the use of streaming offers regularly and as comprehensively as possible in addition to the classic audience shares. As already mentioned, there are promising approaches and developments in this regard. The recording of the use of streaming offers is and remains complex because, in addition to a large number of playout channels, it always requires the willingness of a provider to be measured in a system according to comparable principles. The "classic" linear television is consumed predominantly on the domestic television set. This use can be recorded relatively easily, as it can largely take place autonomously. Unfortunately, this does not apply to the use of streaming content: A large number of very different end devices are available here - from SmartTV to game consoles to mobile devices - as well as various reception channels. A complete recording of usage is therefore extremely time-consuming. At the moment, no company can provide a comprehensive picture of all streaming usage.

"The streaming providers basically have all the data available regarding the content they play."

medienpolitik.net: To what extent are the data collected so far comparable or compatible with those of traditional television research?

Gounalakis: That is another difficulty. Combined usage recording of viewing time shares for classic television and streaming would of course be ideal. For this, however, similar measurands and populations are required. The AGF can currently show a total range, but not in the form of traditional market shares, since this disclosure presupposes, by definition, that an overall market is mapped.

medienpolitik.net: But don't the streaming providers themselves have meaningful data?

Gounalakis: Yes, that is also a result of the report. The streaming providers basically have all the data available regarding the content they play. But here, too, there is a problem: the providers know exactly what they are playing, but not how many users are actually viewing their offers. You cannot record how many people are sitting in front of the television, for example. A panel survey is therefore also required.

medienpolitik.net: How important is it for the media concentration regulatory system to have comparable data?

Gounalakis: The formula is ultimately quite simple: the less consistent the data, the greater the blurring of the overall picture. Within a media category, it is important to use a single currency as a basis for the most meaningful and comprehensive representation of usage and the associated influence on opinion-forming. This enables an overall view without breaks. Ultimately, it shouldn't matter whether a television broadcast is received via satellite, cable or live stream over the Internet. Admittedly, such a combined designation is not trivial.

medienpolitik.net: Is that indispensable for the amendment of the media concentration law that the federal states are currently planning?

Gounalakis: Let us start with the introduction of an overall opinion market model. For this, several different types of media would have to be considered side by side. This is not new to the KEK. Even according to the previous legal situation, the KEK is called upon to ultimately express the influence of companies achieved through activities on completely different media markets in the form of audience shares. In contrast to the existing legal situation, on-demand content (video-on-demand) would then also be part of the overall market and not only be included in the assessment as a so-called media-relevant related market following on from high audience shares. For this, the KEK would need a valid database.

"The less consistent the data, the greater the blurring of the overall picture."

medienpolitik.net: How could this data be collected in the future?

Gounalakis: The Fraunhofer report shows possibilities here. Put simply, the data available from the streaming providers could be used and combined with data from a panel. Panels represent scaled-down images of the population - in this case the totality of the users of a medium.

medienpolitik.net: What political and technical prerequisites must be created for this?

Gounalakis: The technical requirements already exist. All streaming providers collect data on the content played for different reasons. All that is required here, so to speak, is communication in a common language. Panels also already exist, for example at AGF Video Research, from which KEK already obtains data. The legislator would only have to ensure that the KEK has access to the data of all streaming providers. In this regard, the already existing regulation for the collection of usage data by the KEK in § 61 MStV, i.e. the determination of the audience shares, can be linked to clarify.

medienpolitik.net: By when could this new survey system be ready for use?

Gounalakis: It is not easy to predict. The progress of the amendment to the media concentration law will be a factor here. Certainly, a certain willingness to implement is required on the part of all those involved. And of course certain details would have to be clarified, such as who can collect the required data, evaluate it and combine it with panel data.

medienpolitik.net: Media concentration law is about information and offers that are relevant for forming an opinion. Is a so-called full survey necessary for this?

Gounalakis: As the term makes clear, a full census is comprehensive. This results in the most meaningful data. The less precise you are when collecting the data, the less meaningful the data will be in the end. However, the report also shows alternatives here. If a full survey cannot be implemented, a representative panel can also serve as a starting point and be enriched with the largest possible partial surveys.

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