ZEE TV is the only leading GEC which has officially not declared un-subscribing to TAM data. Zee did not comment on the story, but with major broadcasters pulling out of TAM subscription, it would not be surprising if ZEE too presses the ‘exit’ button.
Industry sources strongly feel and have confirmed that there is an indirect pressure on ZEE to go ahead with the move.
How will the broadcasters sell?
The pertinent question being asked now is “What is the sales pitch of broadcasters based on?”
Although most of the broadcasters we spoke to denied speaking on the record but following was the net consensus which was evolved among them for using WHAT as parameter in their sales pitches.
A special interest channel head mentioned, “I strongly believe that there will be a sudden rise in qualitative and quantitative surveys by broadcasters to enhance their own brand equity. They would be substantiating their project credibility with market surveys and consumer choice samples, either through self appointed agency or independent ones. I foresee this trend to enhance till an authority backed by the industry is established and fully functional.”
While some broadcasters are relying upon the brand perception of their property or channel as a whole, some channels would be using their in-house distribution tracking mechanism.
Channels have mentioned such data in the past as well. A broadcaster in this context shared, “Till BARC does not come in place, we would be using our own distribution data for substantiating our acceptability. The trend in TAM data is very volatile. How can a channel have high rating one week and zero rating the following week? It is not as if the broadcasters have suddenly blasted out. The issues have been raised many times, but they end up nowhere.”
Channel (brand) perception
Major GEC broadcasters are relying on their brand value and proposition to attract advertisers. GECs attract almost half the advertising pie in India. A leading GEC broadcaster, who has unsubscribed from TAM said, “People know our worth. We have a high worthy perception among advertisers and they have garnered RoI with us. We would continue using our brand value to command advertising revenues.”
It is believed that the above parameter is the strongest bet of bigger channels relying on channel strength, consumer preference and their ‘perceived acceptability’.
In certain cases, a certain property/ show on particular channel has derived huge acceptability. Broadcasters also mention that certain properties have always been a hit (in a season) with the audiences and they will continue to be. “For a specific property, which has garnered returns earlier, do you seriously expect that not having TAM ratings would be detrimental? Advertisers can use ratings if they want, but audience is the best judge. A property is accepted by the audiences first and then by the advertisers,” said another broadcaster, requesting anonymity.
Some broadcasters are also relying on past associations with advertisers. As some associations are contract-based, they are likely to stay, but for other ones, frugal approach of relationship, networking and brand recognition might work. Some experts also mentioned that association with advertisers would also depend upon better negotiated deals, and customised offerings to the advertisers.
What media planners have to say?
Industry planners have rubbished the approach adopted by channels. “I believe this would establish anarchy in the system. As the above trends materialise, the planners might ultimately get confused when it comes to comparison. If two channels in the same genre claim their competency to be the best, then how you think who is best and who is not. This has to be done only by a neutral body. The credibility matrix would suffer,” said a senior VP of a media agency in Mumbai.
Another media planner mentioned, “The approach of channels is only to re-establish the fact that they are the best. Imagine a situation, where each one them says so. This is not a mature way of solving problems. Unless, an industry body, which is neutral, does the surveys, there is no substitute for other data to be in place. In any case, we expect such data to be biased fundamentally.”