(STAR) More people are glued to television amid the global economic turmoil, which forces them to cut cost on travel and other certain luxuries, the latest survey by AGB Nielsen Media Research showed.

The survey, conducted among 1,014 urban homes in the fourth quarter of 2008 by AGB Nielsen Media Research, the official TV Audience Measurement service provider in the Philippines, showed that television gained wider and longer viewership in the late part of 2008 despite the perceived worsening quality of life brought on by the financial crisis.

“More family members are now watching TV and for an extended period,” Nenette Lustre, Client Service Director for AGB Nielsen said. The survey found that overall exposure to television rose to 32.4 percent in October 2008 from 30.6 percent in July of the same year.

The impact of the financial crisis in the US began to be manifested in other parts of the globe, including the Philippines in the fourth quarter of 2008, when several multinational companies shed jobs to cut cost.

The same survey actually found that a third of the respondents felt the worsening quality of life since mid-2008. Half of the country’s population remains insulated from the impact of the global financial crisis, according to the results of the survey.

Among those affected by the crisis are from middle to low-income classes, who either have been laid off from work or are looking for better sources of income.

These respondents are now unable to pay for their necessities and loans (58 percent), are downgrading or cost cutting (31 percent), and cannot afford certain luxuries (30 percent), the survey showed.

Only 14 percent of the respondents said they experienced a better quality of life (14 percent) and can still afford to buy certain luxuries and pay their debts and necessities.

AGB Nielsen said that as many households began to feel the impact of the crisis, they are now more homebound, saving on fuel and transport expenses.

As a result, home entertainment, particularly free-to-air television, retained the widest audience reach. This was followed by VCD/DVD and radio.

“Cable TV is gaining ground, as well as Internet, as both may also be accessible from home,” Lustre said. “Malling is still a major activity but on a decline. People tend to do laid back activities, tune in to the media and do household chores or office work at home.”

Free TV channels benefitting from increased exposure are GMA 7, TV 5, RPN 9, and Studio 23, driven by their watchers from the CDE income homes, Lustre said Cable channels also saw their audience ratings increase during the survey period.

ABS-CBN maintained an average audience rating of 13 percent in October from the same rating in July while its close competitor GMA 7 gained ground from 11.5 percent in July to 12.7 percent in October.

The broad CDE income households are responsible for driving viewing trends in free-to-air television.

Among TV viewers with no cable TV connection, GMA garnered an audience rating of 13.8 percent in October, close at 13.5 percent rating received by ABS-CBN.

ABS-CBN increased viewing on cable TV homes, mirroring its dominance in the cable TV market segment. The network’s audience rating among households with TV sets connected to cable was 11.5 percent in October, compared to 9.2 percent of GMA.

AGB Nielsen undertakes the widest coverage in Philippine TV research. Its national urban television audience measurement (NUTAM) panel covers 95 percent of all urban areas in the country, with a population of over 34 million individuals.

Its technology-based business research systems accurately monitor and electronically collect data on households’ TV watching habits.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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