Anil Thakraney: Divorcing TAM could be a blessing

17 Jun,2013

By Anil Thakraney


Okay, so a whole lot of broadcasters are busy unsubscribing from TAM’s data. If you ask me, I would say that’s not such a bad thing. TAM’s methodologies have been questioned and debated for years and years, and yet the issues haven’t been resolved, there is discontent in the world of media, nobody seems to be happy. TV audience measurement has been a monopolistic situation, and therefore broadcasters had to simply bite the bullet. So far.


I had met Shashi Sinha for an interview last year (for mxmindia), and we brought up the subject of lack of credibility in audience measurement. Sinha feels this is a problem that can be fixed with moolah. This is what he said: “Someone has to put money on the table, it’s as simple as that. The solutions are all known, I know very bright and talented people in research, what needs to be fixed is known. The problem is: No one is willing to invest. Today, if television measurement costs Rs 20 crores, what if Rs 100 crores was spent on it?” Although I am not an expert on this subject, have to say I am not sure if the problems have to do only with lack of adequate funding. Perhaps BARC will set it right next year, though I wonder if they have such deep pockets.


Anyway, from the looks of it, crores of rupees worth advertising spend will now be decided, at least for the next one year, by many advertisers without using TAM’s data. And speaking for myself, this situation excites me. Because this means that advertisers and media planners will start using common sense and intuitive thinking. Instead of blindly putting massive amounts of money based on questionable data. As far as the Hindi GECs go, perhaps all the money won’t be spent on saas bahu shows, other formats/ideas could find much-needed support. This would put pressure on producers/channels to experiment more. Even on the news channels, advertisers would use gut feel, and perhaps shows whose anchors holler and shriek less will find some ad revenue. And if the decisions are proved wrong, planners and brand managers will be forced to take responsibility for their choices, rather than pass the buck onto TAM. In short, this would result in risky but innovative decisions.


As the cliche goes, every cloud has a silver lining. Unsubscribing from TV audience measurement might help improve television programming in India. And cheers to that.




PS: A photographer managed to get these expressions from bachchas. By giving them an ice-cream cone, and then abruptly taking it away from them. I know that’s mean. But it’s cute too. 🙂



Anil Thakraney is a senior journalist and commentator. He is also Editor-at-Large, MxMIndia. The views expressed here are his own. He can be reached via Twitter at @anilthakraney


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