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TAM and aMap: Confusion or competition

09-August-2005
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TAM and aMap: Confusion or competition

TAM Media Research is currently the dominant research supplier for the television industry. The entry of aMap did bring back the two-currency system that was shed not so long ago, but in the last one year, aMap didn’t shake the industry enough to allow any conflict or confusion. Recent examples have nonetheless changed this and the industry is forming its opinions.

Since its launch in August 2004, not much has changed in terms of aMap’s operations. The ratings system is still strong in three markets – Mumbai, Delhi and Ahmedabad. aMap officials are confident that in a short time, seven markets will be included to cover the Hindi belt, which would prove to be a leap for the system in the country.

But is this beneficial for the television industry? The case of ‘Time Bomb’ on Zee shows that ratings and trends can be very different in both the systems and this can pose a problem for ‘business as usual’.

Peter Mukerjea, CEO, STAR India, offers one school of thought, “Clearly having two optional currencies in any market is simply going to confuse all parties concerned. Just a few years ago we moved from a two-currency environment to a single currency after much heartache and industry debate, and I can’t believe that we now want to go back down that track again.”

A point that Lynn de Souza, Director, Lintas Media Group, strongly agrees with. She said, “The two-currency system is not a welcome move, though competition does always help to improve a complacent service provider. That does not apply in this case, since TAM has always been innovative and responsive to market needs.”

Adding another dimension here, she said, “I am deeply concerned about TAM's continued inability to cover India well enough, and if aMap and TAM could have cooperated with each other to address this crying need of the industry, then it would have been a 'win-win' situation for all.”

While for professionals like her or Mukerjea, the present state is not a happy one to be in, for Punitha Arumugam, CEO, Madison Media, the case is different. Arumugam felt that the presence of two data only gave one more to look into.

“We refer to aMap from for new shows and other critical commitments. There are differences between the two data, but by and large, aMap throws similar trends as TAM, so we have an idea on what to expect from any property. It serves as a good indicator,” she added.

Agreeing with the point of two databanks being beneficial for the industry, Haresh Chawla, CEO, TV-18, said, “Competition is good for the industry and for both the systems itself. In the last one year, we have seen TAM upping its investments already – which is a positive thing.”

Even as players like Arumugam rated aMap’s features of overnight data as a positive one, which has even led to STAR India to look at the data from time to time, Lynn de Souza opines otherwise on the service.

She remarked, “We had the data for a while and did not find any need for a daily service. The numbers were too different for TAM and inconsistently so. Besides which, none of the leading networks, advertisers or agency have yet found the service to be superior enough to seriously consider a switch.”

Mukerjea pointed here that it was not about the player but the need for one system. “It’s not about aMap or TAM – it could be either, but there should be just one that the industry adopts and goes by. Let TAM and aMap or anyone else for that matter, who is interested in supplying research data to the Indian marketplace, pitch, compete and offer the best service and value for money to the buyers. An industry body made up of ‘buyers’ (not users) and they can decide which one to go with,” he maintained.

Clearly, Lintas Media is one of the players that have shunned aMap at present. But this doesn’t take away the presence of others like Madison Media and STAR, who are users of the data in addition to subscribers like Zee TV. All said and done, the picture does promise to be an interesting one, once aMap adds more markets in its base.

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