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In pursuit of what in 2007?

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The CAS word gets TAM India CEO LV Krishnan thinking about what this brave new world could mean for the likes of the airtime sales exec and media planner.

In the shifting sands of time the mind does seek for a grip; In the solitude of space constant change is unnerving; only the whiff of victory

propel one to destination

As the sun set on 2006, the glow of the last rays had fired the embers left behind by the changes initiated in the arena of TV channel ground distribution during the last few months. The beginning of 2007 itself is seeing a market place oscillating between the old fashioned Analog Technology to a new era of Digital Technology unleashed on the unsuspecting TV viewers by the Government, Multi System Cable operators, Broadcast Satellite owners as well as Telecom companies. With technology gizmos flying all around as well as the jargons attached to it, one is left wondering, what is going on in the simple minds of a Media Planner and Air time Sales member of our industry? Does large industry issues we debate about, top their concern? Take a guess…

As one mingled with many of them, the concerns or issues were the same… What are we pursuing at the end of the chase?

A perspective from the Media Planner's diary

March 2006: I read in today's Media website that the Delhi High court has given a ruling to the effect that Conditional Access System is mandatory in South of Mumbai, Delhi & Calcutta for receiving pay TV. This was going to happen in the next few weeks…

…Whoosh!

June 2006: It didn't happen…does it ever happen as proclaimed?

…Zip…Zap!

December2006: Will it happen this month? Will await Dec 31st to know…

January 2007: It happened!

As I walked into my office the very next day…the first day of the New Year, I wondered…

Gosh, what will happen to my life? My Brands - Media Plans & Buys are ready to be executed, but now, will I have to put everything on hold? What will I answer my client? Will plan deliveries fall down in the 3 Metros? By how much? What is TAM data indicating?

In a confused state of mind, I decided to get out of office to take a walk along the Worli sea-line hoping for some fresh breath from a magic genie.

Yes, the winter air was filled with a new whiff. No doubt it was energizing my legs as I broke into a steady walk. As I took a sample of the freshness of 2007, the mind cleared to open up new possibilities staring at us… potential of ensuing change began to dawn on me. The revolution was just beginning and I was determined to ride the wave of change.

With a renewed vigour, I walked back to my desk to put a call to my client. He was pretty surprised to hear me say that I will be coming down to meet him the same evening to explain to him the consequences of changes happening in the TV media.

Next, I started with some desk work. I wanted to understand the magnitude of the change expected to be brought about by the CAS notification on Zone 1. A simple analysis from NRS 2006 as well as the TAM CAS document circulated earlier indicated to me that 1.6 million C&S homes across the 3 metros of Mumbai, Delhi & Calcutta will come under the purview. This meant one-fifth (20%) of C&S homes in the 3 metros or just one-twentieth (5%) of C&S homes represented by TAM All India Class I town panel.

Hence if all the homes in the notified areas for CAS in the 3 metros did not go for set top boxes, the maximum impact in reach of my media plan due to of loss of viewing of pay channels on a National level is going to be less than 5%. In other words, the planned reach of 60% on a National scale could come down to 57%. This could only be the worst scenario. But things are already looking better with demand for set top boxes on the rise with each day passing…

I then looked at my media plan composition - list of Pay TV channels & Free-to-Air TV (FTA) channels used to deliver the reach. On comparing this with the Free-to-Air channels available, I decided to make a few minor adjustments whereby by making minor spot changes between Free-to-Air & Pay TV channels, I was easily able to hike up the planned reach to 58% on a National level!

As I started receiving the news that the demand for CAS set top boxes are increasing, I decided to stretch the brand campaign by a few days. This could help me leverage any additional homes that moved into using a set top box for accessing/viewing Pay TV content.

What made me feel even more confident about achieving the media plan goal was the news that almost all the homes acquiring a CAS set top box will receive all the Pay & FTA TV channels he used to get before Dec 31st. This meant that, while in theory CAS set top box was supposed to act like a filter by providing the viewer with the choice to subscribe, at present it is only used as an enabler to watch all Pay & FTA TV channels which was available to the viewer earlier as a simple cable TV home. Thus, viewer behaviour in terms of channels watched post CAS set top box acquisition couldn't have changed, thereby helping me to deliver my planned reach goals too.

I am awaiting with bated breath the first TAM CAS penetration study later this month, more to understand the length of time it is going to take for viewers to start experiencing a shift to the world of digital content. I for one will be looking for the profiles of the CAS homes to try and plan execution of the new brand creative my marketing manager has promised. I have lots of ideas up my sleeve, waiting to explode in the digital space!

A perspective from the Airtime Sales member's diary

January 2007: I looked up my watch and exclaimed "Damn it, going to be late again." It was all because of this silly traffic…

2007 had started with a sense of purpose. Yes, there were changes happening around. Positive, I could say. I was heading to meet a very important Up-market personal product marketing head. I was pleased that I could get the appointment after struggling for some many months to get it…only because I was going to show him something different!

From the telephonic chat I had with him yesterday, I could sense his voice perk up when he heard about my channel's new programming, showing promise among his set of exclusive consumers.

I got out of the cab and rushed across the street clutching hard to my presentation papers. I approached the front office of the organization gasping for breath. The receptionist looked at her watch, acknowledged my presence on the intercom and then, silently led me to the massive board room. As I sat, wrapped around by the chilly air sent out by the humming air-conditioner, my mind whirred with excitement. At the same time, I had a sense of apprehension as it was for the first time I was going to present the findings about my channel from the Elite panel and I was not sure, how the marketing head could react.

Suddenly, a booming voice saying "Hello" came in from behind. As I turned around, I came in contact with the marketing head, who was by then extending his arm to welcome me. Pleasantries were exchanged and we got quickly to the brass tracks.

I opened my small presentation folder displaying the sheets about his products and target consumers. I could see him nodding to my opening statements. I was feeling relieved that I was bang-on in guessing his product's consumer profile. This led me to draw up the next few sheets that explained the profile of viewers my channel catered on a daily basis. I could see him show inquisitiveness to my reports. Soon we got drawn into the discussion about my channel's performance and the question I was waiting for all along got popped out. "How do you say that my consumers watch TV and therefore content related to your channel?"

My best was yet to come. I opened up the data from the Elite panel to reveal to him the new, latest finding…

His Up-scale consumers did spent time watching TV (unlike his thinking), but they spent less time watching it vis-?-vis the average TV viewer and even an SEC A TV viewer on the TAM National panel.

The other important observation that impressed him was that the TV viewership of the Elite viewers was far more fragmented as compared to an average viewer and also the SEC A viewer in the National panel.

While 26 channels accounted for 80% of viewership for the SEC A viewers, it took 35 channels that made up 80% share of viewing for the Elite viewers, a testimony to the wider content preference for the Elite! This invariably means that, in order to reach to the Elite viewers, the marketing head had to consume air-time across more channels of distinct content appealing to his Up-market consumers.

As I progressed with my charts and comments, the final one hit the bulls-eye. Certain genres like English Movie channels, Business news, English news & English Entertainment channels had a visible skew towards the Elite audience as compared to even the SEC A viewers in the National panel. This made the marketing head look up. I could see a huge smile on his face as he made the comment "I always knew this and keep saying so to all my team members." I just smiled back at him with the hope that I could have finally bagged the campaign, I thought, that deserved to run on my channel.

It did happen as I visualized the very next moment. The marketing head picked up the nearby intercom, spoke a few words to the person on the other end, and then turned around to me to say the final words, the most precious words I have been waiting to hear "…the campaign will include your channel too."

That evening, I was certainly heady. We celebrated the win back in the office with a champagne pop up. 2007 indeed has begun for me in a new way I couldn't have imagined a few days back. A real nice kick start and I hope to keep riding that way!

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