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Landing page a promotional tool, works only for a finite period, says Chrome DM CEO

In the television news ecosystem, the latest battle that has burst out is that of landing pages on distribution platforms such as DTH and cable TV operators being hijacked by older rivals for promotional feeds. Chrome DM founder and CEO Pankaj Krishna spoke to indiantelevision.com (excerpts):

After Dual LCNs, channels taking over landing pages seems to be the latest trend. Your take?

If you look at historical trends, broadcasters have been actively using landing pages to garner trials and thereby viewership for years together. The idea was that higher the availability, the greater the chances that the channel would attract repeat viewing. Until about a year back, MSOs had been monetising landing pages as a source of additional revenue stream by running promos and commercials. But broadcasters taking over landing pages in totality had actually started as a deal between a major broadcaster and a big MSO, and was quickly replicated by others.

In more recent times however, it is the media coverage of the competition in the English News genre which has actually brought it to the forefront.  

What we have also seen is that there seems to be an effort to achieve Dual LCN through the surrogate route of being present on the landing page, and then again at the channel’s usual point of placement. I would also like to add that, strictly speaking, a channel’s mere presence on the landing page does not automatically denote it being present on Dual LCNs. In other words, all landing pages do not constitute dual LCN.

How does taking over a landing page increase viewership?

According to Chrome OAP, when you switch on your TV, it takes an average time of 43 seconds to arrive at the desired programme or the channel, thus potentially adding to the landing page’s viewership under the present ratings system.

In terms of trends, where is the landing page phenomena going/headed?

According to the Chrome Landing Page Report (LPR), in Week 22 between 27th May and 2nd June, the Teleshopping genre has the highest instances of landing pages at 178 counts, followed by Hindi GEC and English News.

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Source: Chrome LPR, Wk-22 (27th May to 2nd June)

If you compare this data with data from the past few weeks, I am glad that there has been a considerable fall in the number of landing pages across genre s. Furthermore, if we examine data region-wise, compared to metro cities, the landing pages have been most visible in smaller market segments. For example, UP with a 1-10 lakh population segment has witnessed maximum instances of landing pages followed by Maharashtra and Goa. Interestingly, Kerala in its 10-75 lakh market category had the third largest number of headends with instances of landing pages. If we go a step further and make a content-wise assessment, it is teleshopping which emerges as the top genre with instances of landing pages followed by Hindi GEC and English News. Yet the over-all trend seems somewhat inconsistent in view of the fact that the landing pages on channels for kids had shot up almost three times in the 22nd week before taking a drastic plunge in the third week. Moreover,

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Telugu channels have been relatively flat through the three weeks.

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Source: Chrome LPR, Wk-22 (27th May to 2nd June)

But, wouldn’t MSOs be the bigger beneficiaries here?

It is certainly an additional source of revenue generation for the MSOs considering that the landing page is priced on the higher side. For broadcasters on the other hand, they get to increase their viewership as well as the OTS (Opportunity-to-see). Based on a back-of-the-envelope calculation, on DTH platforms, it could run into almost Rs. one crore a day!

How ethical is it to resort to landing pages to increase viewership?

From the broadcaster’s standpoint, the concept of landing page as of now is open-ended. Otherwise, this would amount to a clear distortion of market stemming from exorbitant biddings offered to Multi system operators (MSOs) and the DTH Operators, who control landing pages.

Given the tricky nature of the subject, it’s a matter of subjectivity and only the designated regulators can take a call, one way or another. I would say that taking over landing pages to boost viewership should not be used as it would force others to follow suit thus eventually triggering a bidding war.

As a matter of fact, landing page is a promotional tool which works only when it is utilised for a finite period. If allotted to broadcasters, it would make no sense as it would amount to converting a neutral advertorial space to a full-time channel effectively, unfair for the rest of the competition.

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