When TAM, along with industry bodies IBF, AAAI and ISA, took the decision to temporarily suspend the release of its television rating data for nine weeks, amongst the areas that fell under the first phase of digitisation, Mumbai sat at 35 per cent digital penetration and Delhi at 26 per cent; while Kolkata was at a miserly 18 per cent and Chennai at just about 12 per cent.
According to TAM's DAS (Digital Addressable System) Establishment Surveys and its panel estimates, the digital penetration in Mumbai stands at around 93 per cent, while for Delhi it is as much as 97 per cent.
Kolkata and Chennai, meanwhile, have reached a digital penetration of 70 per cent and 26 per cent, respectively, and unfortunately seem to have saturated there.
"Chennai is still at 26 per cent; there is no change in the state and we are not sure how things will move forward in that market," he adds.
Interestingly, in Mumbai and Delhi, the penetration has taken place quite smoothly across SEC A, B, C, D and E. But in Kolkata, while SEC A has touched an almost 96 per cent, SECs B, C, D and E (that represent the lower economic strata) exhibit weak digital penetration.
"So probably while incentives such as pricing could push that forward, this might have to be dealt with more seriously at the local MSO level," he notes.
According to Krishnan, an interesting thing that was noticed during the analog-to-digital switch over is that the pressure on communication has also started yielding results in other markets. Markets like Punjab, Gujarat and Kerala are all moving towards digitisation and a couple of metro markets are also looking at digitisation closely, although they fall in Phase II.
"The numbers are increasing in those markets and we will see that when we release our update on digitisation across the country in the first week of January," Krishnan avers.
Another interesting observation is that along with the change, cable digital has also gone up significantly. Krishnan notes that earlier, in the beginning of the year, the analysis of digital homes revealed a complete terrain of DTH players. Today, while DTH has also grown substantially, cable digital has shown double the growth rate of DTH.
He adds that there has been a significant increase in the time spent on smaller genres and smaller channels. "We expected this because we had seen some trends from the data that we had observed over the years when we looked at digital homes. But since digital homes were still a small pocket of the overall TV market, we could not ascribe it to imply that it would definitely show in the masses when digitisation happens. In fact, overall time spent did see a growth of almost 5-8 per cent. And the time spent increase occurred on channels across small genres," Krishnan reveals.
The population stack up after the digitisation exercise
Mumbai, with around 4.6 million total TV homes, has around 4.5 million cable and satellite homes; homes that have been converted to digital are around 3.3 million. As 93 per cent of the DAS area has been converted to digital, the estimated shrinkage of the universe (that is, through the areas which are not receiving proper signals) in Mumbai is about 5 per cent, wherein the TAM panel is around 525 homes.
In Delhi, TAM expects 3 per cent shrinkage, while Kolkata will see around 10 per cent; Chennai, of course, will witness no shrinkage at all.
How will TAM measure the market?
When one looks at the first phase of DAS exercise, the areas belong to the municipal/metropolitan areas (MC areas) of Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai.
For Mumbai, TAM will look at both the MC as well as the non-MC areas. While MC will have complete digital reporting, the non-MC areas will have both analog and digital. Thus, when TAM reports on Mumbai, it will still see some analog data.
Delhi, on the other part, will be 100 per cent digital. "Kolkata on the other hand is in a peculiar situation as only 30 per cent of the entire city composes the municipal corporation. Therefore, when TAM will reports on it, there will be a huge component of analog visible in the city," Krishnan explains.
Also, even amongst the nearly 30 per cent homes which are still to go digital in Kolkata, not all signals have been switched off yet and there is almost liberal piracy taking place in the city.
"So it's going to be interesting to watch how the 70 per cent move to a complete 100 per cent because the homes are not blacked out yet," he adds.
Therefore, from November 1 onwards, TAM data reports will not include any home which is still receiving the analog signal through piracy. The entire panel will only represent digital in the MC areas. Besides, there will also be the terrestrial homes (the non-cable and satellite homes) that will still continue to exist.
The non-MC areas will continue to be reported as it is today. The reporting breaks will be cable and satellite 4+, which will be a combination of digital 4+ (MC area) and analog 4+(non-DAS area), along with terrestrial.