Television companies are engaged in a mad race. A race in which the only goal is to get TVR ratings. You cannot blame them. TVR is the key that decides how the Rs 3,500 crore television advertising market would be split. So, right now, Sony Entertainment Television is gleefully celebrating the success of its serials, Kkusum (9.00 pm Monday to Friday) and Kutumb - 9:30 pm (Monday to Thursday) that have touched all-time high TVRs of 10.2 and 8.3 respectively (week ending February 2, 2002 across all C&S audiences, TAM data).
But does a rise in TVR ratings alone change a media planner's perception? Or is translating higher TVRs into more advertising revenue a much bigger task?
Media planners argue so. For deciding which channel to bet their clients' money on is not a question of checking the TVRs and throwing in money. "Yes, ratings are important. What is also of greater importance is whether newer audiences are coming in, whether older audiences are staying back, and whether the time these audiences are spending is on the upswing," explains Atul Phadnis, media director, Starcom India.
Where Kaun Banega Crorepati (KBC) scored was that it brought in new audiences for STAR, enabling it to climb, from a distant third in June 2001 when KBC was launched, to an unbeatable first. Industry watchers aver right now, not much thought goes into what makes programmes succeed; the scramble instead is for TRV points alone. "One example is the way rival channels tried to copy whatever STAR did, after KBC. Instead of trying to come up with different stuff, everyone played the same game," points out a senior media planner.
The result? The same number of channels competed for the same audience. And not very effectively, as most media planners go in for incremental reach. Meaning, if they reach 60 per cent of television audiences through one of the "reach" channels - that is, a channel like STAR or Sony or Zee - it is unlikely they would spend another huge amount to capture the rest.
That is because most media planners opt for one or more of the "frequency" channels - such as SABe, Sahara, etc or B4U - preferring to book slots on these with the same money that they would spend on another "reach" channel. Thus, rather than have a commercial run on two channels, a media planner can have it run on one big channel, and a few other channels.
This makes sense too. Research into viewership responses show a product doesn't register in the viewers' mind when they see the advertisement for the first time. It takes at least three viewings for the product to be registered. Again, advertising on two "reach" channels with similar programming means that the same commercial is seen twice by the same people, and not by a different or wider audience. On the other hand, showing the commercial on several channels means reaching out to a wider audience, and at the same time, showing it more than three times.
Thus, with STAR perched firmly at the top - as the number one "reach" channel - a couple of TRV ratings more on Sony programmes may not make too much difference in terms of the disbursement of the advertising money, says the head of a media research outfit.
In fact, channels with lower ratings have sometimes scored higher on the advertisement battle. For example, in October 2001, going by TAM Peoplemeter Data for the 9.00 pm to 10.00 pm slot between Mondays and Thursdays, for the Target Group C&S females in Sec ABC, 15-plus years, in the northwest, SET has a TVR of 6.2, STAR 7.3 and Zee 4.3. In January 2002, for the same target audience, while Sony has a 9.5 TVR, STAR has 8.5, and Zee 3.4. "This is a rather narrow audience, though 50 per cent of television advertising is targeted at them. What about the whole country, or SEC D & E?" asks an industry analyst.
If one factors in the other segments, the gap narrows. According to TAM data, for C&S homes in 14 cities in the Hindi-speaking markets through the week, considering the 4-plus audience in the time slot 9.00 pm to 10.00 pm in the week January 27 to February 02, SET has a TVR of 6.4 against STAR Plus' 5.9 for the 9.00 pm to 9.30 pm slot, and a TVR of 5.2 against STAR Plus' 6.6 for the time slot 9.30 pm to 10.00 pm.
Again, going by the average TVR for the four weeks, between January 12 and February 2, Sony has a four week average TVR of 5.8 for the 9.00 pm to 9.30 pm slot, against STAR Plus' 6.1, and an average TVR of 4.6 against STAR Plus' 7.0 for the 9.30 pm to 10.00 pm slot.
Four weeks is the average that media planners take into their calculations. "What has now happened is that TVR ratings have become like audit data in other industries. Companies take into account only that data that favours them, and then project them to the maximum. What suffers in this is innovative programming, or the search for new audiences. Numbers alone count," rues a programming analyst.
Ironically, greater GRP ratings (the sum of TVR ratings) do not automatically mean more advertising. For example, using TAM data for all C&S homes in 14 cities in the Hindi-speaking markets, with the Target Group of C&S females in Sec ABC, 15-plus years, for the week 27 January to 2 February, Sahara has a GRP, based on half-hour slots, of 51.7, while SABe TV has a GRP of 40.2. Yet, for the same period, SABe has a total of 42,853 seconds of advertising, compared to 17,752 seconds for Sahara. A lot of this, say analysts, is because SABe has an aggressive marketing team.
For a company like Sony, which depends for up to 90 per cent of its revenue on advertising, perhaps the key is in more diverse programming and newer audience segments, rather than a nominal rise in TVR figures. © 2002 agencyfaqs!