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'TV established its rightful claim, as the medium for the nation'

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It's that time of year, for the annual tea leaf-reading ritual, as the media pundits herald a new round of trends.

Looking back, 2007 was an unusual year. It held much promise for media pundits, poised as it was, on the back of an unparalleled economic boom and a raging bull market. The bull was expected to take a breather and consolidate before a fresh charge and 2007 was to be the "Year of Consolidation" for the financial markets.

The Media market was to pick up the baton and 2007 was billed as THE year as predictions flew thick and fast (yours truly was guilty of it too!). Almost all of them were, in one way or the other linked to the broadcast business - as the driver, the catalyst, the victim, the recipient.

Lots of action was predicted and it did deliver, albeit differently. The bull confounded experts and continued to charge, clocking another year of impressive growth.

What was 2007 for the media market? With the benefit of hindsight, let's look at some of the popular predictions…

Year of Cricket? - Starting with the World Cup, that turned out to be a fiasco, cricket proved to be a damp squib, leading many an advertiser to rue misplaced faith and rush back to the time tested favourites and mainstream entertainment.

Year of Broadcast Erosion & GEC demise? - Probably the strongest and most confident predictions were about the rapid erosion in TV viewing and flight to other media. GEC as a genre held firm as the dominant choice during the year as Zee grew rapidly and consolidated on the gains. Broadcast viewing across genres moved northwards as the viewing experience expanded.

Year of Consumer? - Besides indirect consumer voice through content viewership, consumer empowerment in a definitive, direct way was to be created on a large scale by way of the addressable Cas systems.



After starting with much fanfare and anticipation in a limited "manageable" area, it remained confined there as ill equipped operators and logistical inadequacies resulted in thousands of homes blanking out on their favourite content at the stroke of midnight on 31st December 2006.

Year of Launches? - The "buzz" in the market was entirely around the highly awaited "new additions" across the constituents of the industry. With the enticing promise of taking the TV experience to the next level. A slew of channels on the content side that many believed would reorganize the content genre structure. New broadcast delivery platforms that offered to "liberate" the consumer. Alternative media.



Fact: The local cablewallah still rings my doorbell each month. General entertainment still rules the roost.

Year of measurement? The lowest profile, yet most influential stakeholder in the industry was expected to see a major overhaul during the year. TAM's expanded peoplemeter system was to be a generation leap from a four-year-old limited area, limited scope system, to a cutting edge, expansive full scale one. With capabilities ranging from handling new technologies and platforms, expansive coverage, deeper understanding of viewer segments and viewing behaviour etc. The new panel was a step upgrade in coverage terms. The elite panel too promised much and delivered little as it struggled with limited scope and the hangover of existing methodologies.

SO WHAT WAS 2007 REALLY?



It was the year of media consolidation.

TV established its rightful claim, as the medium for the nation. The resurgence of TV and its ability to thrive even amid an onslaught of new and fragmenting media. Other traditional and new media alike (including FM radio, Internet, Mobile) failed to live up to the hype and proceeded to occupy their place in the hierarchy.

It was the year when the broadcast industry took its seminal step towards maturity and financial viability in the form of a surcharge. It started of as a unified cry to bring attention to the broadcast industry's frustrations. Concern against gross under valuation and runaway costs that threaten TV's vulnerable ad-supported framework.

It was the 20-20 year



Not just in terms of the 20-20 format reviving depleting consumer interest in cricket, but to a greater extent, it brought to the fore a new formula of success based on changing audience preferences - short, sleek, quick, entertaining.

WHAT WILL BE THE MEDIA INDUSTRY'S SEMINAL MOMENTS IN 2008?

Nothing can kill this much desired, most maligned, most adored, advertising vehicle - not dropping rates, not under valuation, not an overcrowded market, not insufficient measurement, not print, not mobile, not the Internet.

Genre Consolidation

The much spoken about deluge of launches will unfold in the coming months, leading to an expansion in viewing experience and preferences, rather than fragmentation as is widely predicted.



However, as competition enters the market, time, resources and overall value will shift, taking the broadcast industry rapidly towards the inflection point where consolidation becomes inevitable.

Spiraled out costs, below par returns and maturing viewer preferences would force intra genre consolidation with an alpha duo in the lead and a following pack.

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