Come November 1, 2012, analogue signals will be switched off in the four metros as Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai make the switch-over to the Digital Addressable System (DAS).
While digitisation will eventually prove to be a game-changer for all the players involved, the industry is likely to witness some teething problem as it is unlikely that any of the four cities would achieve 100 per cent switch-over on the given date. The anticipation of a fall in penetration and the subsequent effect on ratings has both, the broadcasters and advertisers anxious.
But is there any reason for both parties, especially advertisers to be worried?
TAM Media Research, on its part has decided to heed to the industry’s request to defer the release of TV rating (all-India) for a nine-week period to ensure a smooth tide-over in the interim period. This is primarily because any fall in ratings could impact both, broadcasters – who could lose eye-balls and advertisers – who may not get the optimum return on their investment, particularly in the festive period.
However, an important point to note is that the four metros make up only 20 per cent of the overall TV households in India. This means that the majority of TV households in India, i.e. 80 per cent, are not affected by digitisation. Even if we take a conservative estimate that 50 per cent of households in metros have been digitised, it means only 10 per cent of the total TV households in India would see their screens go blank on November 1.
According to Devendra Parulekar, Partner and Segment Champion – TV Distribution, Ernst & Young, “If you look at digitisation, only 20 per cent of the overall households will be impacted; so remaining 80 per cent that still exist will be the non-metro urban India and non-metro India.”
But, what impact could this 10 per cent have on advertisers, especially in the run-up to the high spending festive season, Diwali. Parulekar clarifies, “The impact is minimal and don’t think will be a game-changer. For most advertisers in the run-up to Diwali, the target is not the metro markets which they believe to be saturated but the non-metro urban India. So advertisers may not be impacted significantly.” As per Parulekar, the only factor that agencies and advertisers will be looking at is the monitoring of the spend which could be impacted.
With television likely to see some loss in viewership before 100 per cent digitisation is achieved in the metros, there is a high possibility that metro-centric advertisers could shift to other advertising avenues such as print, digital, radio and out of home. This is collaborated by Sam Balsara, Chairman and MD, Madison World, “I would recommend to my clients not to undertake any new metro-focus initiative in the month of November since viewership in analogue homes may be affected in the three-six weeks post the onset of digitisation.”