The television ratings system in the country is in turmoil with some major broadcasters pulling out of TAM ratings. Since television ratings have been the major criteria for deciding on ad rates, the unsubscribing of TAM ratings is bound to have an impact on broadcasters’ revenues since there is no substitute currency as of now.
One question that arises is that in the absence of industry endorsed ratings, on what parameters will broadcasters bring the advertisers on board and also on what parameters will advertisers chose the channels to advertise on.
Commenting on the revenue aspect, Satyajit Sen, CEO, ZenithOptimedia pointed out, “There are other measures in addition to TAM. For news channels, around 20+ per cent revenues come from advertisers who are taking a decision on channels not supported by ratings. For premium lifestyle genres, we use our instinct and buy media environment as we believe the brand benefits from it.”
He further said, “Irrespective of the ratings, we pay a premium on cricket and on impact properties, that is, even on TAM bound ratings-led conversations, we make exceptions. So, we collectively act on universal sentiments of grey data and data black holes.
“But we need to have a measure. We can do without some parts of the TAM data, but to discard the whole of it is rushing in dangerously. We have to stay accountable to our clients’ monies,” he added.
Speaking to exchange4media, one of the broadcasters on conditions of anonymity said, “Just because broadcasters are unsubscribing TAM data, it doesn’t mean that TAM will stop monitoring and releasing the ratings to agencies. The agencies will then sell the data to advertisers. If the client is comfortable with this, then everything will go on as normal.”
According to him, a second situation could be that all pay channel broadcasters provide boxes to TAM for downlinking and monitoring the channels. If any such channel denies permission to downlink, then TAM won’t be able to monitor and the advertiser will go for brand value. But the question is for how long will this brand value exist?”
Agreeing with this, other broadcasters too say that clients will buy as they will get the data from the agencies; thus, unsubscribing TAM ratings will not lead to any negative impact on revenues.
Meanwhile, coming out in TAM’s support, Roop Sharma, President, Cable Operators Federation of India (COFI) said, “TAM is right in its point that it depends on the choice of people, which reflects in the ratings. It is all the impact of digitisation, where people are going regional and niche, and channels are customising accordingly.”
Sharma further pointed out that out of the 850 channels, 180 are pay channels, and on an average, customers are subscribing to only 5-6 channels, while the rest of them are free to air channels. Post digitisation, customers are choosing only what they want to see, whereas earlier all the channels were being offered in a bouquet. “I expect that as digitisation pans out, in the next 5-6 months, the ratings will fall further as regional will become a priority for viewers,” she added.
As is known, NDTV Group, Times Television Network, Multi Screen Media, and Sri Adhikari Brothers have unsubscribed TAM ratings. Network18 and Viacom18 are likely to pull the plug on TAM ratings soon.