RMG’s Fitness Entertainment Network Debunked

Adrian J Cotterill, Editor-in-Chief

Earlier this week, RMG Networks (nee Danoo) announced that it had doubled its fitness club TV audience and also claimed, “RMG operates the largest place-based television network into fitness club cardio rooms across the US” and that got us thinking. We did a bit of research and that got us a bit riled and so, as we said late yesterday when we made quick mention of this, we decided to do a longer more in-depth post today based on our findings.

First off, Zoom Media and Marketing are surely by far the largest Fitness Network by impressions delivered (audience size) and by locations. If you measure by audience, then they would be twice the size of RMG (this is all measured by Nielsen as well by the way).

rmgIf for example RMG were to deliver 18 million impressions for a typical campaign (“RMG’s Fitness Entertainment Network reported nearly 18 million ad exposures for a typical campaign in March 2010” was quoted in the press release) then Zoom (by the same comparison) would deliver nearly 40 million – the claim to be the “the largest place-based television network” doesn’t do anyone in the industry any favours when clients and agencies can simply look up the data (as we did).

We are not completely sure, but we do NOT think that RMG is measured consistent with the OVAB / DPAA Guidelines. The question is “did you see a screen?” in the fitness venue not did you see “an RMG TV” or “any RMG programming”– some of the RMG quotes and statements in the press release look to us as if they are trying to repurpose a very old research piece (written well before the DPAA Guidelines were published) and make it fit what they want it to say.

Remember also, that in order for the RMG adverts to be heard, someone has to have the head phones on – it’s just ike the old GymScreen TV concept in the UK – and therefore you can’t just measure someone wandering around the gym.

Again, we don’t believe that RMG’s numbers actually measure whether someone has the headphones on when they are listening to ads (let alone, as per our previous point, whether they are even looking at the RMG screens and not some other).

We’d ask RMG to conduct new measurement with Nielsen which is consistent with the DPAA Guidelines and then, of course, publish the findings in light of their recent press release.

In fact, Bob Martin, Chief Marketing Officer at RMG, emailed us over night and told us “As in the release, we’re re-measuring to include all potential exposures, à la DPAA guidelines”

He also added that it was “Again, important to differentiate RMG’s multiple live network TV feeds (CNN, CNBC, MSNBC, E!, Bravo, etc) on multiple screens, versus other DOOH video content and digital signage propositions in the US fitness sector”

Although we think that slightly misses the point as RMG cannot guarantee their audience because their compliance is non-existent (anyone in the Gym can just change the channel). Whilst we don’t want to harp on about any comparison with Zoom Media (RMG started it by claiming wrongly, we believe to be the biggest) Zoom, we understand, have an average of 5 to 10 screens ‘locked in’ to their programming and ads per venue – giving, of course, a level of compliance.

Whilst we are on the subject of “multiple live network TV feeds (CNN, CNBC, MSNBC, E!, Bravo, etc)” we also take issue with Garry McGuire, CEO of RMG Networks’s quote that “live television consumed in the cardio area is the most engaging platform in this coveted environment” – that doesn’t quote gel with an “anyone can change the channel” medium now does it?

Highly customised, targeted media that is presented under the branding of a chosen gym has more relevance and meaning for members, who don’t ‘tune out’ commercials when they are presented as part of their health club’s ongoing communications with its members. We have seen that work elsewhere really well and we firmly believe that it is the way forward in the health club sector.

When we started off writing this post we didn’t mean it to be any sort of side by side (network) comparison but every agency worth their salt is comparing networks and the results to us of our own research are pretty crystal clear – RMG, for now seems mostly about smoke and mirrors.

Regular readers will know that we have our favourite networks. Danoo of old was definitely one of those. We like the team over there and our feeling is that they will eventually come clean and get the right metrics in place.

Bottom line, competition (between networks) is a very good thing BUT all the players need to be fully transparent with the agencies and the clients.

Obfuscation in press releases just makes RMG look bad and makes our industry look unprofessional.

5 Responses to “RMG’s Fitness Entertainment Network Debunked”

  1. Richard Lebovitz Says:

    As you point out, obfuscation and, we might add, unsubstantiated hyperbole are too often the name of the game in the world of digital out-of-home advertising press releases. As you also point out, this approach does the industry no good, as what’s needed is both transparency and adherence to the OVAB/DPAA audience metrics guidelines, which have become the de facto industry standard. Those standards represent a significant industry benchmark and meeting of the minds of agencies, network operators and brands. They also represent a foundation the industry can build upon in its quest to move forward and compete against other media vehicles.

  2. David Murphy Says:

    Thank you for the passion and for taking this on; it’s hugely appreciated.

  3. Bob Martin Says:

    My friend, why try to debunk a wholly factual, celebratory audience growth story about a major US place-based network..?

    Nielsen data, provided to you, shows that the RMG Fitness audience grew 84% from Q4’09 to March 2010. RMG has the largest live network tv audience in the US fitness sector. These are stone facts, and positive indicators for RMG and our industry.

    No comparitive claims concerning venue count or gross impression leadership were made, nor are those metrics crucial to our business strategy. Refreshed measurement to completely align with the DPAA guidelines is already planned.

    Your analysis of RMG’s methodology was incomplete. We currently measure TV viewership and duration (versus ‘notice’ and ‘dwell’), but we also understand (and build our venue partnerships around) the relative share of viewership that each of our TV networks receives. So shifting your eyes to a different overhead screen, or changing the channel on a newer cardio machine is fine with us, as in our venues, the most-watched channels – and advertising – are exclusively provided by RMG.

    Stay tuned.

  4. anony Says:

    Multiple channels of live TV (locked in on overhead screens as RMG have) is quite different from digital signage at the front check in desk or water fountain as some other players in the space offer. Nothing is quite the same as live TV in terms of viewership. Thanks for highlighting these two significant variables.

  5. Digital Signage Blog | RMG At The Crossroads: Let’s Make a Deal Says:

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