When Sameer Nair, the then COO of STAR India, decided to launch a library channel in 2005 that would only rerun the popular fare of Star Plus shows, it was seen as a joke by some, and an interesting move by others. STAR India had explained at that time that the Indian broadcasting industry was going digital, and a free to air (FTA) channel would have an important role to play in some markets. And now, there is data to show exactly what Star had meant then. Since the last week, TAM Media Research has decided to give its data users segregated numbers of digital and analog homes in the Indian television universe.
A quick look at the data of Hindi general entertainment genre, from week 30 to week 34, shows that for the C&S 4+ in the Hindi speaking markets, Star Utsav is the clear No. 3 channel in digital homes. Leading the overall pie here as well is Star Plus, followed by Zee TV. The No. 4 position is taken by Sony Entertainment Television. Colors, Sahara One and Star One compete closely with each other after that.
Media observers are not surprised by this. R Gowthaman, MD, MindShare India, said, “This is, in fact, expected because a significant 25-50 per cent of DTH TV homes, depending on which specific pocket you look at, are in the rural markets. The DTH penetration in rural homes is substantial.” TAM Media Research TVM5 peoplemeter allows it to measure cable set-top boxes, direct-to-home and IPTV homes in digital platforms. However, the penetration of DTH has been significant. DTH homes are projected to be at 9 million by end 2008.
“This does not come as a surprise at all,” remarked Shashi Sinha, CEO, Lodestar Universal. “Star Utsav does have content that made Star Plus what it is today. Rural India is seeing a significant quotient of DTH homes, and free to air channels would be stronger in these markets. One reason is the unavailability of other channels. This opens many new thoughts for media planners. There is quite a bit that can be done from these digital numbers,” he added.
Gowthaman added, “We have always been backing Star Utsav because we knew that it would have a wider reach. That is the advantage of being an FTA channel. You would see similar trends even in ETV Bihar and channels like those. That said, even within that space, these numbers do make Star Utsav a very strong option in that audience.”
Data very clearly shows that for some channels, the digital response is better than the others. For instance, in digital homes Zee TV’s gap from Star Plus is more than it is on the overall C&S platform. NDTV Imagine is another player that is stronger in analog homes than it is in digital homes. Do these trends make any difference? Gowthaman felt it was too early to comment on that. He said, “I think that this may just change as we move forward. There is still very little numbers to read into this just yet. Also, the viewing experience would quickly vary depending on which programme was on and what was happening. So, there are quite a few variables right now to make any judgment.”
TAM Blink: 9 mn digital TV homes, more fragmentation, more data... Digital is here