The television landscape is witnessing significant changes in the wake of new platforms like CAS, DTH and IPTV. There couldn’t have been a more relevant time to discuss the implications with regard to advertising, media planning, viewership measurement and implementation hurdles.
At a recent TAM Blink session on ‘Emerging Indian TV Landscape’, L V Krishnan and Pradeep Hejmadi of TAM took the audience through reports on both platforms, CAS and DTH. According to L V Krishnan, CEO, TAM Media Research, CAS would be successful with the magical mix of good content and affordability. He observed that CAS had succeeded in Chennai because it was a market dominated by FTA (Free to Air) channels’ consumption, owing to which CAS became a favourable option for viewers there. However, Mumbai and Delhi are markets dominated by pay TV channel consumption. So the dynamics are different.
The findings related to DTH pointed out that 2.3 million homes are using the service as in February 2006. An intense rural skew (88 per cent of DTH consumption is in rural areas) also came to the fore. DTH platform has two players –DishTV and Doordarshan. While DishTV rules urban markets, in the rural areas, DD is a dominant player. Lower SECs in urban and higher SECs in rural areas are consumers of DTH. However, only 35 per cent of the people are actually aware that a technology platform like DTH exists.
A panel discussion, which was moderated by Amit Agnihotri, Co-founder and Director, exchange4media, and which included eminent industry people like Jagjit Singh Kohli, CEO, Siticable; Sunil Lulla, CEO, Times Global Broadcasting; K S Sarma of Doordarshan; Vikram Sakhuja of Group M; Sunil Khanna, CEO, DishTV; and L V Krishnan of TAM covered major points of concern.
Agnihotri started off the discussion by seeking the causes of the DTH rural urban divide with regard to SEC. Doordarshan’s Sarma explained that since C&S penetration in rural areas was low, more channels being provided by DTH platform woo the viewers there who otherwise had access to only two channels. DishTV’s Khanna rightly observed that the profile of DTH consumers kept changing with newer services being offered. With more value added services being added, more people get inclined to DTH for different reasons.
As the moderator sought advertisers’ and media perspective, Sakhuja pointed to a possibility of more channels going free to air owing to CAS and also lowering of advertising rates. Sakhuja admitted that as of now, the mood in the media and agency fraternity was that of cynicism. “While CAS is good in the long run, in the short run, it will bring disruption (more fragmentation), but if it is inevitable, necessary preparations would have to be made” he added.
Whether CAS will really be implemented as per the High Court order is something that only time will tell. However, based on his attendance of meetings with I&B Ministry, Kohli of Siticable said that the compulsion of the Government was clear this time for CAS implementation.
Lulla provided the broadcasters’ perspective and said that they would like to have short term as well as long term benefits.
Sudip Malhotra of SCAT observed that CAS was not going to be implemented at least in 2006. He said that strong lobbying was preventing the implementation. He added that while Mumbai networks were ready and prepared for CAS, Delhi’s over 160 cable networks were not.
The event also saw TAM introducing the TVM 5 Peoplemeter along with a demonstration of how it works and how because of being platform independent it would have wide acceptance and use in the industry.
Overall, there was a consensus that CAS will happen soon. DTH’s growing strength was also acknowledged and was well justified by the numbers. Khanna of Dish TV insisted that more interactivity in DTH platforms with services like Movie on demand will only further bolster its growth. He said that more than the technology platforms, it is the way television is consumed which is driving growth for new services.
Agnihotri managed to give the audience an overall perspective on CAS and DTH by involving all relevant spokespersons in the discussion.