The passing of conditional access system (CAS) bill by the Parliament recently has been keeping the media analysts busy working out its implications on the broadcasters as well the consumers. The Delhi based research agency, Indica Research, conducted a survey across Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Bangalore cities on the effect of CAS on the media and entertainment practices.
The survey clearly indicates that with the full implementation of CAS, the customer is going to choose the channel basket unlike the current practice of the programme basket. This is going to result in a completely different set of factors that may come into play. 'Will they choose to maximize /minimize variety, how important will be the predictability of fare (music is predictable), what will be the role of the various family members, what will be the role of satisfaction (assuming some time in future he will be able to switch off) and critically makes the total channel programming and channel affinity a key driver.' It introduces channel as a brand into the picture different from channel as mere carriers of the programmes.
As per the Indica findings, programming genres such as action thrillers and comedies may assume a higher importance due to their broader appeal across the members of the household. The CII report has pointed out that the airtime investment on these is less than what the TAM data would suggest it should be.
The survey found that an average consumer household would opt for 3 general entertainment channels, 2 sports channels, 2 movie channels, 1 education/information channel, 1 children's channel and 1 news channel if required to choose 10 channels in a bouquet. The maximization of gratification and wider choice need will give smaller genres a good chance to make it into the consumer basket.
In terms of favourite channels across various genres, the top ten favourite channels emerged are (in order of preference) Star Plus, Star Sports, Sony, Zee, Discovery, Cartoon Network, ESPN, Zee Cinema, Aaj Tak and Star Movies.
The study concluded that if there is likely to be constant retuning depending on what they expect - like the World Cup which is coming soon - then the focus of channels will now also have to be on marketing at a channel level, and not just programmes with only advertisers as the key constituency.
The consumer has to guess at the likely future value of the subscription: i.e. over time, will it carry the kind of programming that they want to see, and thus the implicit 'cost per hour' that it ends up costing him, given the extent to which a channel is actually used. So building channel level brand affinity will be key.
The report also said that TRP's alone will not yield all the information needed to craft strategies for success. The channel has to get in into the household, and stay there, and achieve programme level viewership.
Ultimately promotions, bundling, constant tracking will be necessary. Besides the appointment viewership, there is a strong component of surf-and-settle viewership that a programme enjoys. This is even conceivable only if the channel is in the received-set at that household.
The Indica research clearly indicates that CAS is going to make a fundamental change in the customer-intermediary-channel relationship for sure with significant implications in broadcasting arena in India in the new year