Digitization: The media agency view

07 Nov,2012


By Ananya Saha


Phase I of digitization has been a challenged ride. Even as MIB believes that as on November 5, 2012, 22.4 lakh Set Top Boxes (STBs) were installed in Mumbai, 25.15 lakh in Delhi, and 17.74 lakh STBs in Kolkata; analogue signals still continue to beam in the four cities. The Chennai matter is sub-judice in the Madras High Court. To top it all off, the sunset date for the second phase has already been announced. It is no doubt that 100 percent digitisation of the four metros is still a huge task.


Anita Nayyar

Anita Nayyar, CEO, Havas Media, India & South Asia said, “The current state will carry on over the next eight weeks until stabilization sets in and state government and consumers realize it’s here to stay. The change to digital, now or later is eminent in waves if not crests and troughs. Hundred percent digitization across India will certainly take much longer and there will be many more extension dates.” Raj Datta, Senior GM, MPG-Kolkata also opined that reaching 100 percent digitization in Kolkata will take close to three months.




Raj Datta

While the broadcasters are happy with the numbers, since it will give them additional revenues and save them the carriage fee, the advertisers are still apprehensive. The cost of set-top box (STB) and infrastructure are the primary concerns of the industry. The suspension of TAM data, simultaneous beaming of analogue and digital signals is only adding to the confusion during the festive season. Mona Jain, CEO, Vivaki Exchange opined that the advertisers are wary of the fact that visibility will drop due to the transition. She said, “For the advertising fraternity, the festive season is the key period for them. Due to transition to STBs and digital signals, there are going to be shortfall and shifting in terms of visibility. This is a big concern for them. They are not able to predict the shifts in their current plan and that is an issue.”



Mona Jain

Kolkata has been grappling with low transition numbers. While Mr Datta predicts that digitisation might shoot up due to the impeding cricket season, he is quick to point out, “We do not know what the numbers will show because TAM data has been suspended and will be available only after December 15. Anything and everything is an estimate. It remains to be seen how channel scenario will change. I am guessing that the viewership of niche channels such as History, Nat Geo might shoot up. Post digitization, illegal connections will also drastically drop, also because they will have to shell out money and take a connection. Thus, I feel that the whole scenario will change towards what SEC A likes.” He also said that the sampling of SEC A, B has also increased and this might result in shift of advertisers’ money.


“Advertisers as rule will have to adopt a more segmented and targeted approach sub-slicing their segments. With access to more channels, viewership by TG, will get spread, people will experiment and consume more even if it is not focused consumption and this will happen across genres. Marketers and advertisers if they want immediate results will be looking at incremental spend than earlier budgeted as they will have the option to follow the spread,” opined Ms Nayyar, adding, “Underreporting of C&S households has been an issue and resulted in loss to the exchequer. Further there is the deferring of the TAM data which clients are used to even though digitization will allow more refined information, but while this is already being done it will take a while to become a norm.”


She also said that advertising will increasingly get localised and spill over to local print and radio in the long run.


According to Mr Datta, advertisers are apprehensive about believing the historical data and the current situation. “As a media agency, we have to depend on historical TAM data that we have till October 7, but we do not know if it is giving the correct picture. But we do feel that overall viewership might drop because of digitisation. These issues are coming up repeatedly since we work with cost effective measure called CPRP, and broadcasters are a little apprehensive. It is a complete wait-and-watch kind of scenario. Something definite is quite difficult to predict,” he said.


While the planners and buyers feel the broadcasters are co-operating, it remains to be seen who emerges unscathed in the digitization fracas.


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