Esha Media to enter TAM territory

MUMBAI: Mumbai-based media monitoring service provider Esha Media Research Limited (EMRL) is foraying into the television audience measurement space.

Television audience measurement or television ratings service is currently monopolised by TAM Media Research, a joint-venture of Nielsen and Kantar Media.

Without revealing its plans in detail, EMRL Managing Director R S Iyer said the company‘s television viewership measurement instruments are being tested digitally.

"We are interested in the television ratings space however I won‘t be able to reveal much about it at this point," Iyer tells Indiantelevision.

EMRL has been formed from the merger of Esha News Monitoring (ENM) with Laser Dot, a Hyderabad-based company listed on the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE). Iyer was one of the founding promoters of ENM.

Laser Dot was renamed as Esha Media Research Limited (EMRL) after the reverse merger and has become the country‘s only media monitoring services firm listed on an exchange.

ENM braved an economic slowdown of 2008 and a failed sale deal with Octant Interactive in 2009 amidst the economic slowdown. It survived to tell a tale.

The immediate goal before ENM founders was to raise capital to fund their growth plans and they found a way out with the plan to merge with Laser Dot, which was into printing and publishing.

EMRL has set a two-pronged strategy: to upgrade its existing technology and to raise capital to expand in new areas with a pan-India footprint.

Apart from television audience measurement, EMRL is also looking to foray into other newer areas which include Online Business Monitoring Report, Television Monitoring Intelligence Report, Online Print Media Monitoring, and Social Media Monitoring.

"Our desire is to position EMRL as a complete media monitoring company and also have a pan India presence. Therefore, we decided to merge ENM with a listed entity so that it can raise adequate resources," Iyer states.

ENRL has already raised Rs 50 million of equity from high networth individuals (HNIs) and is in the process of mobilising another Rs 80 million from HNIs for expansion, says Iyer.

During fiscal 2012, ENM had earned a net profit of Rs 5.2 million on revenues of Rs 111.5 million.

"Merging with a listed company gave ENM adequate avenues to raise capital so that it can venture into other areas," Iyer adds.

EMRL is slated to also introduce a special product designed to track political developments and events which the company claims will be a first for the Indian market.

All services will be available online breaking all the delivery restrictions, Iyer asserts.

Apart from Iyer, ENM‘s founding directors included Jyoti Babar, Chhaya Parab, and Shilpa Pawar. The other shareholders of ENM included Iyer‘s friends and relatives.

The shareholders of ENM now own 67 per cent of EMRL.

The four founding directors of ENM would be on the board of EMRL. "The entire management of the listed entity now vests with the new team," informs Iyer.

Asked about the deal with Octant Interactive in 2009, Iyer said the agreement could not be completed as the company backed off due to recessionary fears. The hunt for capital finally saw the founders forging a partnership with Laser Dot last year.

"During the time of recession in 2008-09, the working capital cycle got elongated due to slow recovery from debtors. ENM did not enjoy any working capital facilities from any bank or financial institution. It was a turbulent time as the company was going through an uncertain phase," Iyer said reminiscing those days.

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