How often do we pause and ponder about industry issues that have a bearing beyond just our rigmaroles? Share insights that can further the common understanding? Or, at the very least, point at things that need to be set right. View Point - an exchange4media platform, will fill this void and become a source of understanding, action and perhaps some inspiration.
Understanding Commercial Break Viewing on Television Setting Norms that Promote Effective Buying
P V Narayanmoorthy, Regional Director, Strategic Resource, Carat
Much has been written
about how audiences are becoming increasingly elusive in the crowded television
arena. The primary reasons for the inability to capture audiences on the medium
are numerous. Key among these are:
– as the number of channels increases, audiences are able to customise
their viewing. Television, by definition, is a mass medium. However, in this
new environment, it is increasingly tending to become niche.
– as markets open up, the number of channels on offer increases, accelerating
the growth in the number of channels.
– as new interactive media forms continue to grow, consumers’
dependence upon traditional television decreases. While video-on-demand and
other such options are still a little way away in India, other entertainment
forms like streaming video, etc. reduces the amount of time available for
– as more advertisers begin to use the medium, consumer fatigue is increasing.
As a direct result, avoidance of advertising is becoming the norm.
– with the number of channels on offer, audiences are constantly flitting
between a clutch of favourite channels, particularly during commercial breaks.
This further reduces the ability of the advertiser to effectively deliver
a sales message through the medium.
greater insights into television audience viewing behaviour
In this context, it becomes imperative to understand
how consumers interact with traditional television. Much research (and expenditure)
has gone into this area. India has evolved from the readership surveys (that
provided television-viewing data once every five years) to the diary to
the peoplemeter. Sophisticated software to calculate reach-frequency estimates
for campaigns are available.
industry has also progressed to the point where such reach and frequency
estimates are based on commercial break ratings rather than programme ratings.
However, working on these ratings is akin to the blind leading the blind.
While planners can calculate the ratings of various commercial breaks, they
have no understanding of why consumer view breaks in a specified manner.
Or, indeed, whether there is any pattern at all.
has pioneered the concept of Quality Rating Points (QRPs) that tries to
estimate the interest of viewers in the programme content. This is based
on various international researches by Carat that conclusively prove programme
content is one of the principal drivers of commercial viewing.
is half the battle won. Understanding interest in programme environments
leads to the selection of appropriate programmes that maximise the probability
of garnering high commercial break viewership. But it is also important
to understand how consumers are interacting with actual commercial breaks.
This completes the picture and leads to more effective media buying.
Commercial Break Viewing
Presented below is an approach to understanding commercial break viewing.
The data source is TAM peoplemeter data for the month of January 2004. The
audience in this case, has been defined as all viewers in cable and satellite
homes (this is where the inability to capture audiences is particularly
acute). This data has not been cut by markets, but is only at an all market
channels included in the analysis are Zee TV, STAR Plus, STAR Sports, Channel
V, STAR Movies, Zee India, STAR News, Zee Cinema, Discovery, ESPN, Sony,
MTV, SET Max, National Geographic, AXN, HBO, Zee Movies, Zee English, B4U
Music and Aaj Tak.
data presented in the tables below represent deviations from the global
average commercial break viewership. In other words, indices falling below
0 (zero) represent lower viewership than the average (not necessarily negative
viewership). Key highlights of Commercial Break Viewing
The first myth
to be exploded is that the first/last minutes of the commercial capsule
do not necessarily provide the highest viewership. In fact, the middle minutes
of the capsule garner much higher ratings
picture cut by channels
A totally different picture emerges when cut by different channels. Generally,
channels catering to music, news, English entertainment, English movies and
infotainment (Discovery, National Geographic) perform below the average. However,
it must be noted that this could change dramatically when the audience for
assessment is changed. For example, if the audience was changed from all viewers
to men aged above 25 years, then news channels could perform well above the
average. These trends will be traced in subsequent articles. (Refer Tables
2 and 3 below).
that do well are sports (India playing cricket was on air during the period
of the analysis), Hindi movie and Hindi general entertainment channels. Refer
Tables 4 and 5 below.
choice of Daypart
Daypart mix is
a critical element of constructing the buy for any brand. As already mentioned,
this is done with an incomplete understanding since the patterns of commercial
capsule viewership is not fully understood when constructing the daypart mix.
Generally, it is primetime that has the highest positive deviation from the
average. The middle minutes of afternoon slots and early prime also deliver
higher than average ratings (refer Table 6).
it is relevant to mention once again that the picture may well change if the
audience is changed to youth or housewives. Once again this will form the
topic of subsequent articles.
effect of programme genres
It must be recognised
that viewers are invariably interested in programme genres rather than television
as a whole. Yet this is the area that is least looked at by agency media planners.
Analysis by minutes suggests that most programme genres fall below the average.
This includes, among others, Business, Cartoons/Animations, Comedies, Countdowns,
Film Magazines, Music Shows, News, Sports Highlights and Travel.
that garner higher than the average, at least in some minutes, are Action/Thriller,
Cricket Match, Children’s Programmes, Feature Films, Events/Contests/Awards,
Game/Quiz Shows, Film Songs, Mythological/Costume Dramas, Serials, Talk/Chat
Shows and Women/Cookery. (Refer Table 7 and 8).
case of Serials vs. Mythological
In the month of
January 2004, serials garnered an average rating of 1.39 whereas mythological/costume
drama garnered an average rating of 1.76. Serials continue to be the most
popular genre used by advertisers. But a consideration of cost-and-break viewership
in these genres provides a completely different picture.
Top Break Rating
Break Rating Index
It is reasonable to conclude that spots in mythological/costume drama are
three times more cost efficient that in serials. Further analysis based
on individual serial titles will require averaging over longer periods of
time (perhaps over 12 months) before any conclusions can be derived.
in understanding break viewing
The analysis presented
here is based on data for the month of January 2004. However, this may not
be sufficiently representative to arrive at norms on break viewership. Carat
will continue to analyse this data for each month cumulatively to arrive
at norms on break viewership. This will also be done for different target
groups so that the learning can be applied for more effective and efficient