TAM had stopped releasing television ratings data on October 7, after a discussion with an industry core committee comprising the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF), Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI) and Indian Society of Advertisers (ISA), which requested it to hold back data for nine weeks to ensure the smooth onset of digitisation in the four metros. So how has it affected industry stakeholders whose business significantly revolves around weekly TAM ratings? exchange4media talks to media planners and broadcasters to find out if they missed the Wednesday Morning Fever.
Man Jit Singh, President, IBF
The reason why IBF wanted to switch off TAM data for a period of time was to maintain the integrity of the data when some of the boxes would be turned off and we wanted to analyse and ensure data integrity. That was the primary purpose and we feel that we have achieved it as we have been working with AAAI, ISA and TAM. I look at ratings as trend lines and not as single points. So for me, it’s about the broad trends in the last few weeks and what it implies for the future.
Meanwhile, all of us broadcasters continued with our plans. We didn’t hold back because there were no ratings. I think we sort of know how big properties would perform. For example, with ‘Ek Tha Tiger’, you know what are the kinds of numbers you are going to get and frankly advertisers say the same thing. On most of the channels, the variations for two months would be relatively small. It would be only 10-15 plus points or 10-15 down points, but it’s not going to be a sudden swing. I don’t think we are worried so much about it and we all look forward to our ratings for the period.
Rohit Gupta, President, MSM
It’s important that we get ratings, but life doesn’t change if we don’t. We launched our shows, ran our blockbuster - did what we had to do. So much is being said about it, like figures will be down and people won’t advertise. Somebody senior in the media said that they are advising clients not to do any new activity. It’s crazy. Just because ratings are not there, people haven’t stopped watching TV. They don’t even know what ratings are. Brands also realise that people have not stopped watching TV. TAM should give data for the entire country. People are watching TV but broadcasters are not able to monetise.
Ajay Bhalwankar, Programming Head, Zee TV
There’s a big myth about Wednesday morning and its scary part. You won’t find us running helter-skelter on Wednesdays. 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 already have an internal meter that we follow to check whether a programme is creating any magic or not. Internal judgment is very important. I started my career in the 90s and for the first eight years, there were no ratings. So ratings don’t bother me.
Mohan Gopinath, Senior VP, Zee Cinema
TAM is a mathematical representation of what we are doing and when the news came that there would be no TAM data, the responsibility only grew to get connected to the audience in the light of numbers not being published at this point of time. Initiatives on digital and social media brought us close to our audience. It has been very exciting. We did a Dussehra festival with innovations on Facebook and other digital media which was well-received. Joker was premiered on November 10. Creatively, we’ve gone up a step in terms of thinking of better ideas in the no-ratings scenario.
Nachiket Pantvaidya, General Manager, Star Plus
To be very honest, ratings were not missed. There’s hope that at the end of the nine weeks, you will get ratings for all the shows. Ratings are not coming in immediately but they will at a later date. If there is a blanket ban and ratings are not coming in at all, then it’s a problem. Creativity shouldn’t be linked with a week-on-week rating system. We prefer to be committed to a longer story-line. It’s difficult to develop story-lines on a weekly basis. In the last two months, we have launched three new shows. Ratings or no ratings, viewers like to celebrate with us.
Mala Manyan, COO, Raj Television
Honestly, I felt have got freedom. I might be considered politically incorrect but that’s how I am. I would like to say that I don’t believe in the system. Every Wednesday, we get our ratings and we scan through them. But every time, I start laughing. I don’t find it justified at all for various reasons. This entire year, there were power cuts in Tamil Nadu, often 8-10 hours of power cuts at random hours. As for ratings, viewership should have gone down drastically, but there wasn’t any big change in the numbers. To be honest, I don’t think the ratings are scientific enough to be trusted.
Nina Elavia Jaipuria, EVP & Business Head, Kids Cluster, Viacom18
Every industry needs a currency and we are missing our currency because we have only one. If the currency is missing, you are not able to measure yourself and anything that is not measurable is not good. Now we are hoping that what we are doing is right and kids are accepting and loving what we offer. For example, we launched Motu Patlu, but we do not have a single rating for that show. Digitisation can only make things better for niche channels; the industry gets more transparent and everybody gets a fair share of revenue that we well deserve.
Ajit Varghese, MD, Maxus
It’s a concern for us that crores of rupees are going into a medium for which we don’t have accurate ratings. We also don’t know the effect of DTH on the entire industry. In the four metros where 50-60 brand sales happen, not getting enough data is a big concern. We don’t know what we are buying. We don’t know what the penetration of digitisation is. Even if the data comes later, how robust will it be? Now, 60-70% of viewership will be measured and the rest won’t. That’s a new challenge. Our planning for December was impacted as it is made on the basis of October and November data. Even if we do a mid-course correction, it won’t work. We did dipsticks in some areas, but how many can we do as we decide for 1 million+ towns and 1 lakh+ towns? The fact is that we need a TAM. For me, TAM is the best measured and managed.
Shripad Kulkarni, CEO, Allied Media
Though the data was withheld, we had planned all the festive campaigns. After the festive season, FMCG & consumer goods advertising takes a break. More tourism and holiday-related brands advertise. Since we are going to get data after a long time, I expect dramatic ratings. The new data will show a realistic picture. We were referring to social media only for newer programmes and launches. We do a lot of our own research. Before the ratings stopped, we started a research and checked what the change was, but of course this doesn’t replace TAM data. It would be difficult to imagine life without TAM.
Nandini Dias, COO, Lodestar Universal
It worries you when you invest money and you don’t know whether you are investing right or not. TAM in a way reassures us or directs us where to invest and investing blindly is always worrisome. Broadcasters are not accountable to clients, we are. While we all understand that 80% of the trends may remain the same, the remaining 20% too is a lot of money these days. That’s where all the strategies come - where you put your best foot forward to make your money work harder for you and differentiate. Without data, it’s difficult. We were looking at digital chatter quite a bit to see what’s trending and what’s working. We haven’t done as many surveys and researches as we have done in the past few weeks.