Three out of every four consumers are apprehensive that conditional access (CAS) would increase their monthly cable bill, while only one out of four SEC ABC households is willing to buy a set-top box (STB) immediately. These are some of the findings of the recent StarSight CAS study, done jointly by Starcom Worldwide and the Hansa Research Group.
Talking about the findings of the study, Puneet Arora, media director, strategy and research, Starcom Worldwide, says, "It's amazing to see that the stated intention of the Government in bringing in CAS and what people perceive are extreme opposites. Viewers are convinced their expenses will go up both as a result of the spend on the set-top box and the increased monthly outgo."
This research was conducted among "chief wage earners" in SEC ABC households across Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai - the four metros in which CAS becomes effective on July 15 - through telephone. A total of 413 respondents participated in this research. Interestingly, respondents in the four metros had very different opinions of and expectations from CAS.
The study showed that a majority of Delhi respondents (57 per cent) are still undecided whether they would buy the STB or not. In Kolkata, 70 per cent of the respondents said they would not buy it immediately. However, a third of the respondents in Chennai and Mumbai said they would buy an STB immediately.
STB manufacturers can pick up some cues about pricing from consumer expectations. While 56 per cent of the respondents said they would buy an STB if priced at Rs 2,000, this number fell exponentially as one moved to the second price-point. Only 16 per cent were willing to buy it at Rs 4,000, and 2 per cent at Rs 8,000. This indicates the price-elasticity of demand for STBs is very high.
As is amply evident from the findings of the study, the Government and the broadcasters haven't really been able to communicate the so-called benefits of CAS to consumers. Only 30 per cent of respondents realise that CAS would enable them to not pay for the channels they don't want to watch. However, 23 per cent of the respondents also count it as a problem as CAS is perceived to be expensive. In Mumbai, the respondents believe post CAS, their cable bill would go up marginally. In all other metros, the post-CAS cable bill is expected to be lower than the current cable bill. This might be largely dictated by the fact that most of the respondents are not planning to buy STBs initially. Therefore, the minimum bill for free-to-air channels would lead the average post-CAS cost.
Consumers had some other concerns as well. While a third of the respondents have no idea about the quality of STBs, 43 per cent of the respondents actually feel they might have to buy a new STB every time they have to move to a new locality and therefore fall under the purview of a new cable operator.
Commentating on the general reaction to the CAS issue, Ashok Das, managing director, Hansa Research Group, says, "Obviously, the industry has not got its act together. The uncertainties of what the viewer will get and what he will need to pay is driving most of them into a state of indecision. I feel the acceptance at the consumer level will be slower than what most players seem to expect."
No wonder, most consumers are approaching the whole CAS issue with a wait-and-watch attitude. So, while family soaps are really close to her heart, the consumer is quite willing to wait till the time the mist clears around CAS. Besides, she is quite clear about the kind of money she is willing to pay as deposit/rent for the STBs. Again, a majority of the viewers gave their mandate that they refuse to be pushed into accepting a new regime. She would take her time in working out the best price-value equation, even if it means losing out on her favourite programmes for a while. © 2003 agencyfaqs!