Lets Abuse TAM Data: Indian TV Industry

An example that illustrates how one should be careful when reading television audience ratings data.

Advertisements

I read an ad in Mint about UTV-Bloomberg claiming that they have grown to no. 2 in the English Business News Space.

Lets Abuse TAM Data

Surprised I decided to look closely:
Well in the Male CS 25-44 (all SECs) Segment All India market they had slightly greater channel share (relative) than NDTV Profit and ET NOW according to TAM. For the uninitiated channel share is the product of no of people who watched at least one minute ( reach) and the average time spent by them.

I have three issues with this kind of abuse of TAM numbers :
1. The target for English Business News Channels is much smaller than the one used in the ad. Perhaps CS 25-44 M SEC A and B in 10 lakh plus towns would be more plausible.

2. The use of relative shares is again a misleading measure. In reality the absolute of share of viewing of these channels is minuscule to total television viewing so how many combined minutes of television viewing does this really mean?

3. The third is with the use of TAM for such data.English business news is a very niche segment.
a.) This genre is consumed by respondents who are hard to recruit for high involvement research like TAM.
b). Besides consumption is outside the home ( at public places, offices etc).
c.) The sample sizes for these channels is so low that these fluctuations may be due to sampling errors.

But the saddest part is that our media planners will continue to spend advertising money based on these irrelevant numbers and think they are making scientifically correct decisions.

I hope students of media/ advertising /marketing can learn this before going to the industry.

Beyond counting audiences: A bold attempt in the Indian GEC space

The recent ‘character India Loves’ study released by Ormax media demonstrates that capturing viewers tastes and preferneces is as important as measuring viewer numbers. Unfortunately industry has been laying emphasis only on the latter till now

With all due respect to TAM, my often echoed grudge with the Indian media industry has been its inability to look beyond plain counting. As an industry, it has been extremely focussed on reaping rewards from or critiquing the TAM panel in India, comparing it with AMAP (the other metering service) and advocating the need for more and more people-meters. Especially if you are a mass entertainment television channel, TAM has remained your holy grail for selling air time, understanding audience behaviour, making programming strategies, determining promo plans and whatever else was needed to be done. Thursday evenings (when the new data got updated) has long since been the day of reckoning for television channels. Even channels with niche offerings have pandered to the ratings game.
TAM, in my opinion, is an excellent system for what it offers, but it CANNOT answer everything. The industry needs to look for additional solutions to try and understand audience behaviour more closely and put the ratings data in better perspective. Only then will they be able to truly create differentiated content from their competitors and set trends. And I am sure many broadcasters do exactly that in some measure but its all propriety.
In other words there is a dire need for some industry wide original research to look beyond counting number of heads and the time they spent. To that objective, I found the recently released ‘Characters India Loves’ study (click here) by Ormax media a particularly innovative attempt at trying to quantify viewer engagement with popular characters on TV. That it is a study done by an independent company and not by one particular broadcaster should lend it currency among broadcasters, agencies and advertisers alike. That it promises to be a quarterly track will allow interested parties to look at trends than merely one off statistics.I believe a lot of innovations and sponsorships etc can be planned by drawing clever inferences from studies like this one.

I only hope that this is not a one off attempt and we see many more studies on Indian audiences where we get insights into their tastes and preferences. Of course the counting will remain as important!