How is TAM dealing with CAS?

By , agencyfaqs! | In | June 16, 2003
The industry currency is gearing up for the inevitable "environmental changes" in the wake of CAS right from the day of implementation

TAM has been at the centre of the television viewership universe for broadcasters, producers, media planners and allied bodies, providing the all-important viewership data that determines which way the Rs 3,000-crore worth of advertising that the medium (that is, terrestrial and satellite channels put together) attracts, will go. But with viewership itself set to see a radical change post July 14, the role of the industry currency in the new, evolving environment, requires greater scrutiny.

"Our preparations began almost a year ago," states LV Krishnan, CEO, TAM Media Research. "However, intensive preparations have been going on since Parliament passed the CAS Bill around six months ago," he says.

The most important shift for TAM post-July 14, is the movement from a two-universe scenario, that is, C&S and non-C&S (terrestrial) to C&S pay (CAS homes), C&S free-to-air (non-CAS homes) and non-C&S.

With the viewership universe itself seeing a breakdown, is TAM equipped to deal with the new subsets? " We intend doing special baseline studies called CASES (Conditional Access System Establishment Study) to estimate three things," says Krishnan. "The first, is the penetration of CAS in each metro followed by the profile of CAS owners in terms of socio-economic class (SEC), channel availability and subsequently, growth of set-top boxes in each metro."

The fallout of this measure, which will begin from the date of CAS implementation and will be consolidated every 15 days, is that the body can align the "panel universe to the new altered universe".

Though media planners have hailed TAM's efforts in this direction, niggling doubts still remain. "What sense does it make to do the survey on the date of implementation?," asks Kunal Jamuar, media controller, Optimum Media Solutions. "To presume that there will be a conversion rate on the first day of implementation is inappropriate. Ideally, they should let the dust settle and not report for a month-and-a-half from the date of implementation."

Krishnan of TAM, however, has a different take on the subject. "The MSOs are not going to wait till July 14 for consumers to avail of the boxes. It is a sustained effort that will pick up as the deadline nears. We want to be ready as and when CAS happens. There is no if and but here."

Set-top box technology is another contentious issue for TAM. From a list of 175 devices that could make an entry into India, the body, through a process of elimination, has come down to a list of approximately 40 to 50. "The boxes will be imported from Thailand, Korea and China, which have been studied at the AC Nielsen laboratory in Australia. The learnings, in turn, have been passed on to us, implying that we have a fair idea of how the boxes will operate."

Despite the assertion, the key issue here is whether the set-top boxes eventually hired or purchased will be compatible with the people-meters installed by TAM in different homes across the four metros. "The crux of the matter definitely is the adaptability of the meter (TAM's people-meter technology is ACN6000 series, which is used in all AC Nielsen markets worldwide) to the set-top box environment. However, we will have to wait for the set-top boxes that finally make inroads into India."

Sandip Tarkas, president, South Asia, Media Planning Group (MPG), however, wishes the body were more proactive on the issue. "I had made a suggestion to them (TAM) that they should make a presentation to the I&B Ministry to ban all analog boxes. The reason being that digital boxes can talk back to the cable operator (receive as well as send signals back to the operator) while analog boxes can only receive signals from the cable operator. Thus digital boxes can track which channel is on."

Nonetheless, the magnitude of the entire exercise is undeniably huge. "The rigour with which they estimate the universe, do the sampling and keep adjusting the sample to the changing universe is easier said than done," says Partho Ghosh, AVP, Initiative Media.

TAM has timed its regular expansion of the sample size along with CAS. "From July 14, our sample size will be bigger in the four metros," says Krishnan. "In Mumbai, we move from 312 homes to 450 homes while in Delhi the figure will go up from 340 to approximately 440-450. In Kolkata, the sample size jumps from 220 to 310 and in Chennai the figure will stand at 320, up from 225." © 2003 agencyfaqs!

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