The digitisation of television in metros in India has been one of the smoothest in the world. One thing that helped was the decision to suspend television ratings for nine weeks. Next week, TAM will start releasing data all over again. The firm, which was in the eye of a storm after a suit by NDTV earlier this year, is, apparently, no longer a respondent in the case that will be fought by its parents, Nielsen and Kantar. Vanita Kohli-Khandekar spoke to L V Krishnan, CEO, TAM Media Research. Edited excerpts:
What is the picture emerging on digitisation?
When the decision to suspend the data was made, we wondered if anything would happen in the four weeks before the digitisation deadline (October 31). But, amazingly everything worked out. Chennai is stuck at 26 per cent, otherwise all the three metros are fully digital and TAM covers it. There are several caveats to reading the data on a fully digital universe that we need to educate the media and industry on. For example, earlier these cities included the outlying areas also, like NCR in Delhi or Thane in Mumbai. Now, the digital home panel will only look at those homes within the municipal corporation limits of these cities or MC homes.
Your plans for a bigger sample in these cities.
We are in the process of adding 650 more metres in the metros to boost the SEC-A and -B sample. This will start reflecting by the first quarter of 2013. TAM will reach 9,350 homes (from the current 8,100) nationally by January-end, .
Now that you have a 100 per cent digital sample, what is the viewership picture like?
We were very worried about how the data will look like after the digital drive. But, the data looks pretty robust. Much of what we are seeing follows what we have seen in digital homes earlier. Only, earlier they were largely DTH, now digital cable too is a part of it. The three big things: One, engagement with TV is higher in the digital universe by eight per cent. So, viewers spend an average of 150 minutes a day watching TV. Two, smaller channels are getting more time, largely because they are becoming available on digital. Three, kids, movies and sports do exceptionally well in the digital universe, and this still holds.
The next 38 cities are to digitise by March. Do metros and non-metros behave differently?
Funnily, digital cable is growing faster than DTH in the metros while the reverse is true for small towns.
If digitisation goes smoothly in phase-II as it did in phase-I, there should be no major problem.