STB demand in Mumbai, Delhi will be 1 million, says TAM

MUMBAI: The revised zonal conditional access deadline of 1 September is just over a month away, and the tune has changed somewhat from the earlier doom and gloom projections.

Ratings agency TAM Media expects the demand for set top boxes in Mumbai and Delhi to be around 1 million.

On the advertising front, with Mumbai and Delhi accounting for just ten per cent of all-India sales of FMCG goods, there is no need for media buyers to make too much of the "loss in viewership" to pay channels, feels TAM. Why the stress on FMCG goods? Because nine out of the top 10 advertisers on Indian television belong to the FMCG category.

The scenario just described is pertinent to both the metros becoming totally CAS illuminated. But with zonal rollout, the "adverse impact" would be even less, is the TAM argument.

The issue was raised at a CAS discussion organised by the Press Club of India today. Also represented were the three major MSOS Hathway, Siticable and INCableNet and pay broadcasters Star and Zee.

Speaking on behalf of TAM was Akash Chawla, who said, "There has been a lot of speculation about the future of measurement in India post-CAS. CAS has been put in place in most of the 30 countries in which we operate in the latest being Taiwan. The question is whether digital technology is preferable to analogue. Digital technology is tamper proof and state of the art. So the measurement company will need to acquire knowledge of CAS technology and about the different digital systems that will be used. For this purpose we sent a delegation to Australia for a study."

"We see a demand of one million set top boxes in Mumbai and Delhi. Research has shown that over 70 per cent of television viewers in these two major metros tune in to pay channels. In Chennai however, Sun TV, which is a free to air, dominates. So the CAS rollout there will take longer."

Chawla said he expected the serious push for set tops would occur during the India-Australia cricket series (airing on ESPN Star Sports) in September-October. "After all two kinds of content drive up viewership in the country: soaps and India cricket."

As regards advertising Chawla said: "They (advertisers) are not sure whether to continue with pay channels or shift ad spends to the FTA channels. Nine out of the top 10 advertisers on Indian television belong to the FMCG category. Our research indicates that Mumbai and Delhi account for just ten per cent of their all-India sales. So CAS is not such a huge issue for now. The media fraternity should not fear CAS." He however, pointed out that consumer durable manufacturers might take a hit as the two metros contribute to 20 per cent of their all-India sales.

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