Over 60 channels, 1,500 hours of original programming daily and a combined viewership estimated at 85 lakh - which is growing - make Indian television network one of the largest in the world. However, for broadcast television across the world the audience levels continue to decline. During the 2002-2003 television season, broadcast television stations collectively accounted for an average 49 share of primetime viewing for all television households, compared to an average 74 share 10 years earlier.
In a session on Mobile Marketing, Sam Balsara, CMD, Madison said, “TV advertising is changing in the face of increased competition from the Internet, cellular phones, video games and pre-packaged content, as well as new technologies such as personal video recorders. Time spent on television (across the world) is seeing a certain amount of decline. With heavy commuting within the city and obligations on the work front, life is becoming extremely fast-paced and consumers are resorting to various other devices of information. A media plan ought to embrace the convergence of technology, and resort to newer mediums of getting the message across.”
Meanwhile, Vikram Sakhuja, MD, Mindshare South Asia, believes that non-conventional media needs to be adopted increasingly as the effect of TV reduces. He said, “The need for non conventional media is really to improve the effectiveness of the brand communication. The sole reliance on this one medium will be a foolhardy act. This is mainly because in an era where brands want to build relationships with consumers, and product attributes become increasingly blurred between brands. There will be a need to create brand values that transcend the tangible and rational into an area where they stand for something more.”
Is time spent over television decreasing with time? The ruling Saas Bahus for instance no longer commands the kind of numbers that they once did in the past (though their quota remains more than what the others have to offer.) Planners like Gautam Rajgopal (Starcom) asserted since long that with the emergence of malls, internet, multiplexes, amusement centers, the telly tube is fast declining as the primary source of entertainment. The total viewership pie is definitely coming down.
“We have barely scratched the surface when it comes to television viewership. As of now, most households don’t even have a television set. We are looking at a small quantum of viewers (those put forward by TAM). This quantum would only grow, as the spending capacity of people increases. It is only now, that new and differentiated channels are stepping in and choices are increasing. Time spent on television, is all set to grow by the seams. Saturation is a distant reality.” Says Ashutosh Srivastava, CEO (India & South East Asia, Group M.)
Pradeep Iyengar, Vice President, Carat said, “Let’s ask the television companies, shall we? People are not watching less TV. On the contrary that they would be watching at least 30 per cent more due to the influx of so many channels.”
What’s the future for so many new channels, even with the eventuality of fragmented audiences? All our experts concur on one common point - Market forces will determine if low rates brought about by increased inventory supply are offset by inflation due to fragmented audiences.
Globally, demographics assert that the decline in core television audiences is happening among the historically loyal over 35 years of age, normally with greater disposable income. There is no evidence that the Internet has captured the hearts of this important economic group in the society. The basis is that while most of the people may use the web for business and education purposes, it is not necessarily used for leisure or retail consumption purposes.