Mumbai, Delhi will lead the way in CAS rollout: TAM

Mumbai and Delhi will lead the country in the growth of CAS. Kolkata will be slow in catching the trend, and Chennai will comprise mostly of fence sitters, content with its bundle of FTA channels.

These are a few observations that rating agency TAM is using currently to gauge the CAS mood in the country. With the imminent merger of the two ratings agencies in the country, TAM, backed by Nielsen's Media Research (NMR) will become the only resource for advertisers and broadcasters alike in tracking consumer preferences on the tube.

Preliminary research conducted by the agency indicate that while Mumbai and Delhi, which caught on fast onto cable and satellite TV, will also see the highest growth of CAS, Kolkata which was one of the slowest to catch the C&S train, will be a slow market in responding to CAS. Chennai, TAM research shows, enjoys the benefits of FTA basic channels, ensuring that most of its potential CAS users will be fence sitters.

TAM India CEO L V Krishnan says the agency already has technology experts from NMR help it in tracking the Indian market during the growth phase of CAS. Most complex TV markets, including the US, also have CAS set top boxes with NMR tracking viewership on a daily basis, with the peoplemeter attached to the tuner of the set top box instead of the TV tuner, he says.

The initial phase will be a hectic one for TAM though, with frequent base-lines to estimate the penetration of CAS, resampling and monitoring changes in viewing behaviour across CAS homes.

From the two discrete universes within TV homes - C&S and terrestrial, CAS will necessitate a move to three universes -

After CAS, we will move from two universes to three Terrestrial C&S : in 4 metros
- FTACS (Free To Air C&S)
C&S : Other (Rest of the country)

The early days of CAS will also see instability in household statuses as homes would either take long to take a decision, flirt with several channels before narrowing their choices to a few or those who convert to CAS only if there is a big event and are otherwise content with FTA channels.

Nor will CAS distribution be equitable, says TAM. While lower SEC homes could get bogged down by costs of the boxes and subscriptions, metro markets with multiple MSOs could see feverish CAS marketing activity vis a vis metros dominated by one or two cable ops, says a TAM study.

- It observes that CAS homes may move primarily to an analog set top box for cost reasons rather than a digital set top box enabling only a one way communication between the cable room and the CAS home. This will enable information about the penetration for each of the pay channels, says the study.

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