Let the (ratings) games re-begin!

18 Dec,2012


By A Correspondent


After a brief two-month hiatus, the broadcast industry will be waiting with bated breath to lay their hands on the viewership data that will be released by TAM tomorrow – that is, December 19 2012. The day will be of utmost importance in the broadcasting fraternity as it marks the release of data post the digitization drive that transpired across four major metros and also for the fact that the industry expects new trends to emerge, something that was amiss when the analog world was largely in operation until October 31, 2012.


Just to recap, TAM had stopped issuing ratings to the industry citing deferment. In wake of the phase-wise DAS implementation that was scheduled to take place across the four metros, the custodians of TAM Media Research – Advertisers (ISA), Media Agencies (AAAI) and TV Broadcasters (IBF) – had arrived at a joint consensus on the need to temporarily defer TAM TV Viewing data release for the All India market for a period of 9 Weeks starting Week 41 (October 7, 2012, Sunday) and ending Week 49 (December 8, 2012). This deferred data will now be released on December 19, 2012 along with data for Week 50 (December 9-15, 2012).


LV Krishnan

At a press conference last week, LV Krishnan, CEO, TAM Media, highlighted the progress that had been made so far post the switch to digitization by the four metros and what were the immediate trends that were showing up in the new universe. What was heartening to note was that most analog homes in Mumbai and Delhi had made the imperative switch to digital with Mumbai recording a 93 per cent conversion rate compared to Delhi that recorded an impressive 97 per cent. On the other hand, Kolkata witnessed only 70 per cent conversion from C&S homes to digital while Chennai recorded more abysmal figure of just 26 per cent homes that had moved on to digital.


Emphasising on the new rating mechanism, Krishnan said that as per the advice of the CIC committee, TAM will not report homes in the DAS area that are not digital. This will lead to the universe also shrinking correspondingly. Thus while analogue data from Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata will not be released, an exception will be made for Chennai where it will continue to report analogue data given the low conversion rate observed there. Krishnan added here that the Urban Agglomeration or non-municipal corporation areas in Mumbai that consist of Navi Mumbai, Thane, Dombivli, Kalyan etc will continue to release analog data as they would be liable for conversion when the second phase kicks in. Thus, going forward, the data that would be released will be reported at breaks of C&S 4+, NCS (Terrestrial), C&S Digital 4+ and C&S Analogue 4+ (for non-DAS areas).


Among the few trends that were observed as a result of the digitization drive, Krishnan pointed out the move had been a boon for niche genres like English and kids entertainment that witnessed a spike in viewership (time spent) during this phase. He noted that about 60 percent of channels with a pre-DAS share between 0 and 0.5% gain in share had witnessed a 4 percent net share gain post digitization. This was not the case for larger market share channels that witnessed a slight reduction in the net share gain.


In order to facilitate the ever-expanding universe size, TAM has said that it would be increasing its sample size by about 400 peoplemeter boxes in the Mumbai and Delhi markets starting from the first quarter of 2013. It has also decided to add another 250 peoplemeter boxes to centres such as Chennai, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Kolkata.


While all systems are set for the December 19, 2012 release Krishnan stated that with digitization having set in it was important to be cautious when analysing data in this phase like for example taking averages, looking at trends, not cutting data too fine such as a particular half hour on a particular day, ensuring that sample sizes are sufficient etc. Asserting his gameplan for the future, Krishnan said that for Phase 2, TAM seeks to carry-forward the learnings and continue working with the committee to make it conducive and resourceful for the broadcast environment.


MxMIndia spoke to a few members from the broadcast fraternity to see if not having data for two months made any difference to their survival and what would be their expectations from the new ratings that get released from December 19, 2012.


Ajay Bhalwankar, Head- Content – Hindi GECs, ZEE

“There is a myth about every Wednesday morning being a scary one….You won’t find us running helter-skelter every Wednesday. Ratings tell you what has been liked and what has not been liked but not what has to be done! So they are just a reference point. We have an internal meter which we follow to check whether our shows are creating magic or not. Initiatives on digital and social media brought us closer to our audiences. This internal judgement is important. I started my career in the ’90s and we had no ratings then for nearly eight years. So, ratings do not bother me.”


Anand Chakravarthy, Business Head, BIG CBS Networks

“Our issue with TAM has always been that the English entertainment genre has never been well represented. The fact is that the English entertainment speaking audiences are never fairly represented in the sample, due to which the data released is not quite comprehensive. As a network, we have never depended on numbers to sell; we’ve always talked about the quality of content and the quality of our offering which has been our strength. In fact we have always maintained that TAM data is not a yardstick for niche channels like the English entertainment channels because the sample size of TAM does not represent this audience well.


Even with digitization happening, the question, is how well will the new sample represent households that watch English entertainment channels? There could be some amount of movement of market shares between genres as we know that some parts of metros are still not disconnected completely. Therefore the universe size may reduce in some markets that will lead to change in ratings from the larger genres to possibly the smaller genres. But the fundamental issue, does the TAM ratings represent the English entertainment genre well enough and does it have the right sample size and profile of people, the answer to that is no. It will continue to be a problem unless it is addressed very clearly and head-on. That’s an issue that needs to be addressed very quickly. We are working with TAM to see how we can better evolve the system so that the English entertainment space is represented well enough.”


Nina Elavia Jaipuria, EVP & Biz Head – Sonic & Nickelodeon India

“What happened was for the good of the industry because it was required that everybody come to a consensus and see that the data is sanitised thanks to the changing environment and that it would give us a better understanding of phase 2. So while life was disrupted for about 8 weeks, it was all for a good cause. But having said that, I also believe that TAM is the only currency that exists in this industry and therefore we did miss its release to some extent. But it was a minor hurdle and nothing major so as to change our lives drastically.


As for the release of data once again from tomorrow, we have to see what the new TAM has in store for the industry. They must be having their hands full as of now but then there is a committee which is looking to sanitize data that gets released. With the digitization numbers already pouring in, we are eager to see the kind of trends that the kids entertainment genre has managed to throw up. I see content and marketing playing important roles as they will drive viewership to the genre. So I would wait to see what TAM has to offer and take that lesson to phase 2 of digitization. I am sure that TAM will keep themselves abreast of the sample size and formation based on the manner in which digitization gains acceptance. So the universe will also move accordingly and I am sure that TAM would have taken into account that factor. Whether it is SEC fragmentation or it is the universe movement, TAM surely would have taken all these things into account. Also, digitization will only help the industry in terms of it becoming more transparent and more measurable and the fact that the niche genres will have a better chance to survive.


Also, it will become an environment where the reliance on ad-sales will witness a drop. It will not vanish completely but we will see more reliance on subscription, which will be a good thing. All this won’t happen overnight as only 4 metros have been included in phase 1, which will move to 38 other cities in phase 2 that will take another 4-6 months. But in the end the country will be digitized for good.


From a qualitative perspective, we would like to see different slicing of data especially from a demographic and psychographic perspective in the kids’ genre. Traditionally we have been doing 4-14 yrs which is sliced 4-9 and 10-14 yrs and the more we look at kids today and the fact that they are becoming more dynamic today, there is a need to relook at the slicing by TAM.


Ajay Trigunayat, CEO, English Entertainment Channels, Times Television Network

We are of the view that it’s difficult to capture rapid macro-transitional changes:


1. Analog >> Digital migration

2. Panel Updation

3. Change in SEC definition


We certainly understand it’s a challenge to condense this transitional period but we are hopeful TAM will accurately reflect these changes soon.


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