Remote Sensing

Written by Anushree Chandran | Updated: Jan 8 2013, 08:14am hrs
Industrys anxiety about viewership patterns post digitization proved misplaced as the TAM numbers released after a gap of 10 weeks dont reflect massive deviations

Contrary to the doomsday prophecies, the television industrys ratings system did not go through anyviolent convulsions asthe countrys major metros transitioned from analogue distribution system to a digitally addressable regime. After a 10 week blip, Mumbai-based television ratings company TAM Media Research Pvt Ltd resumed the release of televisionviewership data. And surprisingly, there were no major deviations in the viewership scenario but for minor dips in average weekly reach and daily ratings. Most interestingly, there was no upheaval in the line-up of winners and losers in the Hindi general entertainment genre, the biggest segment on TV both in terms of viewership and advertising. An interesting change, however, was a marginal increase reflected in the viewership of niche channels.

The release of data had been kept on hold because of the digitization drive in the metros mandated by the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting. It was felt by the industry bodies such the Advertising Agencies Association Of India (AAAI),the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) and the ISA (Indian Society of Advertisers) that the transition might lead to inconsistencies in ratings because of logistical challenges involved in the exercise.

In the end, it all turned out to be a storm in a tea cup. There are many in the industry who, however, feel the suspension of data was justified.All industry bodies including the AAAI, ISA and IBF were aligned ahead of time on the extraordinary circumstances leading to TAM data suspension and the transition has been conducted with maturity, said Dyanada Chaudhari, COO at one of the units of Madison Media. She added that it was business as usual in the festive period with all fast moving consumer goods companies continuing to spend on television and brands with skews to metros using dailies and outdoor to boost reach.

A white paper released by media buying agencyMadison Media shows that TAM has reclassified its viewership universe into digital cable and satellite (C&S) and non-C&S. This has shrunk the total viewership universe by 5% in Mumbai, 3% in Delhi and 10% in Kolkata. The average weekly reach in Mumbai has gone down from 88% to 83% and in Delhi from 93% to 88%, Kolkata numbers are stable. Average TV ratings for a regular day have dropped by 6% in Mumbai and 3% in Delhi while Kolkata registered a 1% increase. Niche genre gained viewership with English movies viewership going up by 28% in Mumbai and 38% in Delhi.

The white paper added that music had gained substantial viewership across markets - in Kolkata by 41% and Delhi by 44%. Channels such as Fashion TV, Food Food, and Zee Trendz have also gained in overall viewership.

Hindi general entertainment channels (GEC) saw the usual swings.Madison said that in the weeks when the data was suspended, Colors emerged as the top channel beating Star and Sony. But the data for the just released week 51 showed that Star Plus had taken the number one position back while Sony Entertainment acquiring the second slot. Colors and Zee were pushed to third and fourth places, respectively.

Raj Nayak, chief executive of Colors - Viacom 18 said that ratings for general entertainment had a completely different story to tell when compared with the pre-digitization phase. He, however, believes that itis primarily a function of content, backed by distribution and marketing. At Colors we believe in presenting our viewer with quality and differentiated content. There is stiff competition among all the four major broadcast networks. One or two high points, such as events and premieres, can tilt the balance in favor of the channels in a given week. This is the nature of the GEC beast, he said.

There are many who dont seem swayed by the changes in the universe. We are not disturbed by weekly changes that happen in the data. Along with the TAM numbers that certainly give us direction, we also have a lot of consumer research and feedback on an ongoing basis that helps us understand channel health, said Bharat Ranga, chief content and creative officer at Zee Entertainment. Zee TV has been growing in terms of numbers and audience popularity in the last few months, he said adding: New genres and thought leadership in content and marketing have paid dividends. If you look a the TAM data post digitization, Zee TV numbers show a very healthy sign across fiction properties. We understand that there are some areas where we need to get better and we believe that our upcoming line-up will strengthen us further.

Tarun Katial, chief executive of Reliance Broadcast Network Ltd (RBNL) said that digitization will benefit niche channels, especially those that cater to the English entertainment genre. With digitization promising an impartial and all-pervasive accessibility, it will also allow the channels to reach out to the right and optimal audiences. With digitization any existing distribution advantages, or legacy issues or benefits some channels had have melted away. BIG CBS channels, for instance, are available across every head-end in DAS markets.