What’s-ON conducts study to plot behaviour changes post digitization

11 Jun,2014

By A Correspondent


Asia’s leading EPG specialist company, What’s-ON, recently concluded a multi-city study in India to understand the way viewers search channels, discover new programmes and reach the channel they want to watch. The study, called as TSeND (Television Search Navigation & Discovery) is a path-breaking and comprehensive research study conducted to understand how viewers interact with digital TV using the set-top box (STB) post the cable digitization in major Indian cities.


The in-depth study was conceptualized and designed by TV Street Maps, a division of What’s-ON that specializes in TV Channel Distribution Monitoring. Hansa Research was brought in to do the field survey across DAS1&DAS2 towns.


TRAI plans to implement Digital Addressable System (DAS) for the cable industry in 4 phases out of which DAS1 & DAS2 have been implemented successfully in November 2012 and April 2013 respectively. This covers the top 40 cities in India. Implementation of DAS in these towns simply means analog signals get completely switched off in them and being replaced by Digital TV delivered via a STB.


Post the first 2 phases of Cable digitization, millions of Indian homes in metro cities had to suddenly watch their staple daily TV content using the STB and navigating with an additional new remote control. The other complexity was in the way Digitization played out on the ground level – every operator’s STB and remote controls were different, the STB menus were varied, the way the channels were organized in every operator’s menu were different (i.e. the channel line-ups) – all leading to non-uniform viewing habits and practices at the viewers level.


Given this massive switch at the TV Households level, there were many unanswered questions within the TV industry that perplexed the operators, broadcasters and distributors alike. Some of them were – How is the set-top box (STB) changing viewer behavior from their analog days? How are viewers locating and landing on their favorite channels and programs now that the STB has a structured menu as well as 4-5 times more channels? What are the factors affecting viewer navigation across channels and how much of it depends on viewer demography, operator’s offerings and various channel genres? Do viewers remember channel numbers to reach their preferred channel or use the STB channel guide?


The T-SeND study proved to be a goldmine of insights. Some of the revelations of the T-SeND study are:

:: There is a correlation between the operator STB menu and the way a viewer reaches a channel. The more complicated the STB menu, the more viewers dread using the remote forcing them to remember channel numbers and randomly surf channels.


:: About 86 per cent of viewers across DAS1&2 towns were aware of EPG (Electronic Program Guide) features. However, substantial variations were observed across towns; where Delhi being the most aware with 99 per cent versus 70 per cent EPG awareness in Kolkata.


:: About a quarter of Cable & Satellite homes in DAS1 & DAS2 homes have noticed advertisements on the EPG menu.


:: Younger viewers seem more evolved in interacting with operator menu to reach channels. They displayed greater depth of the STB menu usage.


:: Almost half of viewers or 46 per cent to be precise, were not aware of channel packs they are subscribed to; with viewers in metropolitanareas being least aware.


This study puts the viewer at the center and the insights will help redefine strategies relating to all aspects in the broadcast value chain like channel marketing, distribution, placement, etc. It will also help Cable & DTH companies to understand the impact of some of their VAS and STB offerings on their subscriber constituencies.


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