Too many people taking undue advantage of TAM, says NDTV’s Vikram Chandra [from our archives]

07 Dec,2011

While CEO Vikram Chandra wasn’t reachable for comment, this is what a spokesperson told MxMIndia: “We confirm we have filed a lawsuit in the Supreme Court of New York State. Because the matter is sub judice, we have no further comments at this time.”

While the legal documents present the NDTV case, this interview of Mr Chandra from the MxMIndia archives (interview published on December 7, 2011) gives you a good idea of NDTV’s standpoint. – Ed


By Akash Raha


Recently NDTV 24×7 came out with an advertisement announcing the GFK-Mode survey which showed it to be most watched English News Channel. The survey which the group has conducted for the third time since 2009 places it well above its competitors. MxM India spoke to Mr Vikram Chandra, CEO, NDTV Group to know more about why he went in for the survey.


Q: Could you tell us a little more on the GFK-Mode survey…are there any other insights that you would like to share?

We have now done three surveys over the last three years since 2009. We did the last one in 2011 the results of which you have quoted. The results of this survey have been very consistent now. All the three surveys have shown the same kind of results for us. A large sample base has been used here showing NDTV 24*7 to be the most watched channel with 56 percent. There is obviously an interesting lesson in here somewhere which someone should try and figure out.


Q: The findings are very much in variance with those published by TAM. Why do you think this is the case?

You know, we have our own opinion on the way TAM ratings are conducted and we have frequently discussed this with TAM without gong forward. We are hoping that they will get the complete picture…We do feel that the TAM rating meters aren’t adequate to measure a country like India. I think that there are not adequate boxes to measure viewership. Moreover, I think that TAM has not been able to focus on all parts of the society to derive their ratings from. One of the issue which is of concern for us, and it is causing a lot of concern to TAM too, is that there are people who are using undue advantage of the way TAM functions. There are a large numbers of outliers who are there in the TAM samples. I think TAM needs to be a little robust in their system. Measurement is a serious issue which has been going on for a while now.


Q: Media planners and marketers still subscribe to TAM as the ‘currency’ for buying ads on channels? Would they take your survey findings seriously?

There are two things to it…While numbers and TAM ratings remain important in the absence of any other measurement system, media buyers and planners look at other variables and other aspects of channels. So I think the message is being communicated to them. We are also drawing attention to some of the anomalies that are there, and we are hoping that media buyers will also join us to get rid of these anomalies. That there are anomalies, everyone knows… A lot of money is been spent on this data and hence it is important that the data which comes out eventually is robust.


Q: What do you think should be done to come out with a robust currency?

First of all the broadcasters should work together with TAM and other measuring organization to try come out with one robust measurement. I think we should all work in partnership as this is in everyone’s interest – It’s in TAM’s interest, broadcaster’s interest and in interest of media buyers too. What does it mean? It means that we need more boxes and a bigger sample sizes. Also, if somebody is trying to tamper with the measurement system, how can that be identified and corrected. These things are in everyone’s interest. It is not only NDTV who face these problems, I am sure the others do too. So we are appealing to the entire industry to come together and fix the measurement system. We are in the process of trying to reform and fix the whole media business. That is the most important challenge before us. Digitization, distribution problems are being sorted out and only in a few years time everything should be stream lined and a systematic model. Similarly, on the other side of the business we have a measurement system which is a cause of concern and we have to find a way to make it more robust.


Q: You’ve said ‘why scream and shout’ in your advertisement. But isn’t that what most news TV channels do? On air in their shows and in their advertising and sales pitches?

I am glad you ask this question…We have a very strong viewpoint on what we think we should do. At the end of the day NDTV’s strongest asset is our brand and we stand for something. We try to do a certain type of journalism and a certain type of programme, and this is one of the things that we have tried not to change too much. And if you compare us to other Hindi channels, you will clearly know the difference and how we are different from most of the channels. Now that I am the CEO one of the things I want to do is to make this differentiation even stronger. We are not ready to put up random shows and we don’t believe in going tabloid. We don’t believe in bhoot banglas, tantriks and astrology and alien abduction. We are not going to do any of this and that’s the kind of environment we want to build for our advertisers. And we will appeal to media buyers and people who want to protect their brands to think about that.


Q: Would you like your advertiser to buy spots on your channel for the number of viewers or because of the environment it offers…quality and experienced anchors and reporters, sobriety in coverage, credible leadership?

Both! And that is precisely what we say to our advertisers. We have numbers, not like we don’t have numbers, but one should also consider the people who are coming and watching our show. People who come and watch our channel come for a certain kind of program and sobriety. I am not doing a value judgment on others’ programs…everyone is free to do whatever kind of programming that they want. But people who are coming to us are coming for a certain type of program. There is a certain style that NDTV stands for and we believe that that’s the style we are most comfortable with. And we think that offers the advertisers an environment, which if they sit and think is going to be beneficial for them in the long run.

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One response to “Too many people taking undue advantage of TAM, says NDTV’s Vikram Chandra [from our archives]”

  1. Raghunath A S says:

    Thank you for your efforts in getting Vikram to present his view points on his channel’s recent customized survey. Although Mr. Raha has asked most relevant questions on this survey but few that needed to be asked were left out.

    Most of us agree that TAM’s 8000+ people meter may be too small a sample size, but these are relevant to the most of the urban India where this channel has most viewers. But looking at the carefully hand picked samples for the survey, raises a lot of questions about its acceptability by the fraternity.

    Vikram complains about TAM’s inadequate samples. But why his survey was confined to just 14 select cities? These 14 can surely not even represent the urban India, leave aside the nation. India has about 50 1 mn+ cities where English has news consumers and survey should have been extended to these cities too.

    Then the survey has selected only male respondents of 25+ age group, belonging to only to SEC AB! Why? Why not SEC C?

    The survey’s ad inserted last month, had shown 10 of its female anchors’ faces out of 16 displayed. But why no female respondents? Females are not considered as news consumers? Why 25+ and not 18+?

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