Campaign India Team
Jan 07, 2013

‘Larger genres have declined post DAS; smaller genres have gained’

Q&A with Anand Chakravarthy, business head, Big CBS Networks, on progress post DAS and viewership trends. Edited excerpts:

‘Larger genres have declined post DAS; smaller genres have gained’

How are the three channels - Big CBS Prime, Spark and Love - placed post DAS?

Post DAS, the network has grown by more than 150 per cent in terms of viewership share. Big CBS Love has grown by 200 per cent, while Big CBS Prime has shown a growth of 100 per cent. And we’re expecting to further grow this year as digitisation sets in across the country.

As a major broadcast company, RBNL has voiced its opinion against insufficient sample size on TAM’s side to measure special interest channels. They’ve now increased the sample size by 400 in SEC AB, Mumbai and Delhi markets. Is that good enough?

As far as the sample size is concerned, there is always scope for improvement. The thing with English entertainment genre is that even today, if you look at the top metros, a sample size of 400 in SEC A is not enough. Also, where are these boxes placed? Placing a box in a traditional SEC A household does not mean it (household) watches English entertainment, because finally, a SEC A is based on income and occupation of the chief wage earner. A household classified as SEC A can be a complete non-English viewing household. 80 per cent of traditional SEC A households - the way they’re classified - are households that do not view English channels. I think the time has also come to start redefining things for niche genres. It is important to look at measures other than SEC. We can look at lifestyle as a measure. Is it a household that goes for a certain kind of a gadget or is it a household that has a certain kind of internet connectivity? So it is important to define a household watching a particular genre. 

If you keep placing boxes in SEC A households, are they really those households that advertisers are looking for? Advertisers are communicating in English and a lot of their products are talking to a certain kind of a mindset, a certain kind of audience profile which is not necessarily good enough to be defined (just) SEC A. That is a larger issue we need to resolve, especially for niche genres. More than number of boxes it is the households in which they’re placed. And how these households have been identified needs to be relooked at to present a better picture of an SEC A audience. 

But do advertisers minutely look at TAM numbers when they look at English entertainment or for any premium channels for that matter?

Any advertiser requires some kind of a measure so they can take a decision. Yes, quality of content is important, but today advertisers are increasingly being pressurised to deliver ROI on any marketing investment. Accountability has become so high that advertisers are looking at any form of data that could substantiate their choice. That is the environment we live in and we cannot change the environment. Broadcasters can at least bring about a change to ensure that the quality of data basis which an advertiser is taking a decision should be accurate. That’s why, one of our priorities will be to work with TAM and other broadcasters in this genre. We want to contribute in improving the quality of data, which advertisers and broadcasters trust. 

What are the broad trends you’ve observed post DAS?

With DAS, the TV industry is seeing a lot of changes in terms of viewership habits and the way channels and genres are consumed by audiences. There is a lot more fragmentation happening today and this is primarily because digitisation has given them the opportunity to avail new channels of their interest. As a result, an interesting trend has unfolded. We’ve observed that post DAS larger genres have seen a decline in terms of share while smaller genres have seen a significant increase. So, if new channels are available, as a viewer, you will watch it first, and if it does interest you, you would invariably stick to it.

Does it mean that media planners need to change its approach for niche channels such as yours?

Absolutely! In order to reach out to audiences, they need to include more channels into their media plan. So if they were taking two channels in a genre before, now they will have to take three or more channels. The kind of growth we’re seeing as a genre (English entertainment) is very encouraging. Post DAS, the genre growth has been more than 40 per cent. So taking into account that larger genres too are important, planners will need to now have a mix of channels representing both smaller and larger genres. Data clearly shows that across genres, channels which have been around for a longer time are actually losing share. And new channels, which typically were not available to all households, have gained momentum and will continue to grow with digitisation.

And this is just the beginning of digitisation in phase two…

Precisely. As we move into phase two, the deadline for which is March 31, another 38 cities in India will get fully digitised. Imagine the implications on planning. Already, Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata are well and truly digitised, so when those 38 cities will be digitised, the impact in terms of viewership will be even more significant. Mindsets will have to change; you will have to look at data far more holistically by looking at overall performances of genres. 

For RBNL, what are the focus areas going forward?

We will continue to bring in the latest and the best content from the US. Starting this month, we have American Idol season 12. We are going to be bring in some very big shows such as Elementary, and Beauty and the Beast. Number one focus area is to keep the quality of the content best in class. Second, is to clearly ensure that we build the channel not just in metros but beyond the metros as digitisation happens in other markets of India. Third area of our focus will be to work with TAM to see how we can improve the quality of data for the English entertainment genre. I think there is a need to relook at the audience profile and the way it is defined. How can we make the ratings more relevant and accurate for the content that we offer as a channel and the advertisers who advertises with us and other channels in the genre?

Has the company increased its marketing budget in this digitisation phase where most households are expected to make decisions on the channels they want to view?

Yes, we have intensified our focus on marketing.  And the response so far has been fantastic. As a broadcast company, we usually promote our shows via integrated campaigns. But you’re right, now is the time when typically all broadcasters will look to aggressively promote their channels.

Campaign India

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