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"Dual LCNs is not the best thing to do" -- Chrome Data CEO Pankaj Krishna

The dual and multiple LCNs issue has sparked off a furore with English news television channels after Republic TV announced eye-popping numbers in week one of its launch.  The media has been buffeted with leaked complaints to the regulator by news channels against one another and the viewership monitoring agency – the Broadcast Audience Research Council of India (BARC India).

Chrome Data  Analytics & Media has been monitoring cable TV and DTH networks with its own household panels. And, its founder & CEO Pankaj Krishna has been on the frontlines where the action is. We got in touch with him to get his views on the English news channel fracas and what it all means.

Excerpts from the interview:

Q. What’s your take on Republic TV’s distribution?

As per the Chrome data released on 15 May, Republic had already managed the highest OTS at 65 per cent as per Chrome track 2.0, in Week 19 (6 May – 12 May), All India Urban Market, in the English News genre.

TABLE

MARKET

REPUBLIC TV  

CNN NEWS 18  

INDIA TODAY  

TIMES NOW  

NDTV 24X7  

ALL INDIA Urban

64.7

64.7

61.0

61.8

59.3

Source: Chrome Track 2.0, Week 19, Market: All India Urban

Further, if you were to factor in the impact of distribution on the BARC Reach/Coverage - as per our predictive DPi (a Chrome proprietary tool which gives the direct impact of distribution on channel trials) taking into account Chrome Data released on Monday, that is, 15   May, 2017, Republic TV was well headed to take on the number one slot across India on the ratings panel.

Chrome Predictive DPi

OTS (%)

Conversion

Reach (%)

Times Now

61.8

4.9%

3.01

Republic TV

64.7

5.6%

3.64

NDTV 24*7

59.3

1.89%

1.12

India Today

61.0

1.78%

1.09

CNN News18

64.7

1.54%

1.00

Source: Chrome Predictive DPi, Market: All India (Urban), TG: All 22+ Male ABC, Wk 19’17

In fact in the current week 20, with a Dual LCN count 43 headends, translating to dual OTS viewer, OTS of 68.2 per cent (Part data captured Chrome OTS Data till Thursday, 18 May, 7 PM), Republic TV is well on its way to making trade headlines for week 20 as well (Saturday 13 to Friday 19 May).

According to you, does dual LCN help channels increase their viewership?

Yes, it does. The objective of dual LCN could be to monetise the simplest law of probability on the ratings. For example, if you were to visit a supermarket, higher visibility of a product leads to impulse buying. Similarly, the channel with higher availability increases the chances of higher visibility, which eventually escalates viewership.

public://republic_0.jpg

Source: Chrome SES, Week 20 (13 May-19 May 2017)

So, is it ethical?

Whether it is ethical or unethical is a call that should be taken by the regulators. It is beyond our purview. Looking at the larger picture, I probably would say it is not the best thing to do because if one channel opts for dual/multiple LCNs, others are compelled to follow it to safeguard their numbers, consequently causing a spiralling effect on the carriage fees. We track 1277 channels as on 18  May, 2017 (available for downlink in India), however, in linear TV, the operators can carry only 106 channels on analogue, and approximately 300 on digital – resulting in a gap in supply and demand. Dual LCNs add to this gap by further blocking LCNs.

What else is Republic doing to escalate viewership?

There are primarily two ways of impacting channel trials – consumer pull led by content affinity, and broadcaster push led by distribution initiatives. Republic TV had made it in both. So yes, dual LCNS do have a direct positive impact on the viewership. Consumer pull clubbed with strategic distribution planning has a huge impact on the overall performance of a channel.

There are several other factors that boost ratings of a channel, such as the content, on-air-presentation and many more. As per Chrome OAP track (anchor delivery, graphical interaction with expert panel members, treatment to live coverage, type of stories, screen-packaging etc.), Republic TV has outscored its competition average. 

Chrome OAP Parameters

Republic TV

Average of Top 3 Channels

Anchor Affinity

7.24

5.19

All day Stories covered

5.53

5.41

Screen Look & Feel

5.62

5.25

Breaking News & Packaging

6.86

4.96

Source: Chrome On-Air Presentation Track

Period: 6 to 11 May 2017

Sample: 9,874

Market: All India Urban

Chrome OAP is a proprietary tool that helps broadcasters to optimise factors determining viewers’ behaviour and engagement with on–air screen elements. The scores are given on a scale of 1 to 10.

As per your findings, who all are engaged in dual/multiple LCNs?

To a great extent, it happens across the industry including all the genres. Whether a broadcaster does it, or it happens on-ground by a cable operator to fill the blank LCNs is beyond our audits.

However, owing to bandwidth constraints, the former seems to be more likely. A number of TV channels across India are seen available on dual LCNs to reach out to more audience. Dual/multiple LCNs are mostly seen during blockbuster events (such as budgets for the business news genre) and during new launches as a part of the channel’s marketing exercise.

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