is one lady who doesn't hesitate in speaking her mind and
believes in calling a spade a spade. In this article, penned
for Indiantelevision.com, Lintas Media Group director
Lynn de Souza strongly opines that with the fast-changing
media landscape; either a new television ratings system
needs to be in place or Tam India needs to pull up its socks
and soon enough.
can be no two ways about it. Our current television audience
measurement system must transform itself radically, or go.
In 2006, the Chinese year of the dog, I predict that the
definition of television audiences itself will change -
its measurement therefore must change too.
term 'audience' is a passive one way thing. It conjures
up images of 'lying back and thinking of England,' while
the man in the box dishes it out. 'Viewership' is no different.
It implies that the only sense one uses while interacting
with one's television set is that of eyesight.
TV and DTH will add sound and light and interactivity to
the idiot box, making it as intelligent as our laptops and
PDA's. Viewers have already piled on to the SMS response
bandwagon in billions. Actively engaging oneself with the
medium, finding the channels and programs that one identifies
with - these are not just confined to the urban top end.
Just as cellular technology gave us the ability to deliver
reach in surprising quantities at one end, coupled with
unforeseen quality in value added services at the other
end, simply by enabling different types of receivers depending
on what you can afford, so too will DTH do the same to television.
audiences lie passive, one needs to use an active system
to measure them. The peoplemeter we have been using till
now does just that. A sample respondent has to punch a button
before his viewership starts getting recorded and punch
himself off when he stops viewing. When audiences turn
active, the measurement system has to become passive - it
has to have the ability to measure without interference.
That's the first and important change. Canada has already
moved into the portable peoplemeter system, and the successful
Houston experiment will soon see the whole of the US questioning
the longevity of the sweeps-cum-Nielsen meter approach.
line between consumers as audiences and consumers as consumers
will also blur, as television networks find themselves partnering
advertisers more and more closely to deliver both content
and consumers to each other. The Media Research User's Council
has set up a special committee to look at measurement. This
committee calls itself the Television Consumer Assessment
Committee, recognizing that there will be no such thing
as an audience in the near future. There will be only people
who consume goods and services including television programming
and interactive content.
will lead to a third and very important change. Till now,
India is one of the few countries where the measurement
currency is advertising agency supported. Undoubtedly, this
has had its roots in the historical support given to the
TAM service by lead advertisers and agencies. The service
has therefore built its strengths, skills and expertise
in areas that would appeal to this community, developing
and investing in tools and training systems largely geared
to making better media planning decisions.
unfortunately is a business model without a future. With
the revenue models of media agencies already under threat,
how can one expect this group of users to continue to fund
and invest in this service and its growth? The megabucks
have got to come from the networks - the creators and distributors
of television signals. The megabucks will only come from
this latter group if the service provides them answers to
far more difficult marketing and consumer behaviour questions
than a simple currency can provide. A currency based on
a sample that does not even adequately cover India by a
networks will not want fancy media planning software. They
will want to know that even as the Indian sky gets clogged
with more and more channels each getting less and less share,
the system and the sample are robust enough to capture it
all, in all its intricacies, with reliability and stability.
They will want to know what makes television consumers come
to a place and stay there. They will want expressions, not
And guess what? So will the advertiser and his media agency.
New Year, TAM! It's high time you got yourself a new collar.
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