TVT gives us power to negotiate better: Broadcasters

MUMBAI: The month of July saw the tamasha related to the ratings - TRPs vs TVTs and it was for a fortnight that the whole industry awaited for the three stakeholders to reach a consensus on how viewership numbers will be dished out and what will be the metric for evaluating how television is faring.

Several meetings and exchanges of emails  between the involved parties gave birth to television viewership in thousands, colloquially referred to as TVTs. The format was devised to capture and reflect growth in TV audiences in the country in absolute numbers.

And so from the past three weeks, the industry has been receiving ratings in numbers rather than percentages. spoke to industry professionals to understand the changing scenario and the road ahead.

Though most broadcasters feel that it is still too early to expect any major changes, but the numbers have surely put them in a better position to negotiate.

“It is never too easy to get advertisers on board,” laughs and says Zeel chief sales officer Ashish Sehgal. “Currently, the way transactions are happening people sometimes still tend to refer to both (percentage as well as numbers) as they are habituated to the old ways. But to see the real change happening, we will have to wait for a while - till the whole universe is revamped in January,” he adds.

He further elaborates, “Things like ad cap and ad rate hike are the roadblocks in adaptation of the new currency. However, broadcasters now have higher negotiating power.”

On the same lines, a senior executive from a leading GEC is happy that TVT which is the accepted norm globally for gauging TV viewership has been finally adapted in India. “The new method is a true reflection of how many people are really watching TV and hence, it helps our sales team to utilise the data in a profitable manner while discussing ad rates with the clients.”

The new method has benefitted the niche and regional channels the most which at times received zero per cent TRPs. ETV Marathi and ETV Gujarati business head Anuj Poddar says, “The shift of TAM from GRP to GVT is a healthy thing for everyone and I don’t know why the buyers and advertisers were protesting so much. Now it’s all doodh ka doodh, paani ka paani because it shows absolute numbers. It is very easy to compare across platforms.  You can see the reach of the channels and know the number of homes it reaches.It’s a good starting point where TVT helps all of us get our math right and to also know how and where to spend money.”

However, there is a catch in the consensus achieved which is keeping all the stakeholders happy. For internal evaluation including planning and buying, percentage TVR weekly and all other data is still available to advertisers and advertising agencies as in the past. Hence, for most advertisers it’s business as usual.

Parle general manager (marketing) Praveen Kulkarni says, “For us, it has not made any difference. We still go by the old currency (TRPs). So, there is no change in our media plans.”

Similarly, Godrej & Boyce Manufacturing vice-president (sales & marketing) Kamal Nandi states, “The change has just happened so it is too early to say anything. As of now, we still refer to information in percentages.”

He further elaborates and says that for TVTs to become a reference point will still take some time and it all depends on how fast planners and buyers can cope with the new metric.

Media planners too think that it is too early to talk about benefits of TVTs over TRPs and continue to refer to the old rating method. A south India based media planner explains, “It is too early to say how it will change the way money is exchanged between the two parties. We are trying our best to make sure that both the parties are in a win-win situation.”

On this, the GEC executive goes on to say, “Earlier an advertiser who would pay Rs 100 (and if 100 people were watching a channel) will now have to pay Rs 500 as the reach too would have increased to 500 viewers. And that is the main reason they were and are still opposing it.”

Whatever be the case, one thing which is clear right now is that the broadcasters have engineered change in the way industry views how television programming is being consumed. And that is only phase one of their journey. They still have some road to travel to ensure that TVTs become the currency amongst aadvertisers and agencies.

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