This year marks a milestone for India television. For the first time it will cross the 50 per cent mark in terms of its advertising share. Advertising expenditure is expected to reach Rs.300 billion (US$6.6 billion) and the reach of TV in urban homes will be to the tune of 70 per cent and at an all-India level to the tune of 60 per cent. “The Indian TV market continues to grow primarily because we still have another 40 million homes, which don’t have TV sets,” said Mumbai-based Ragothaman Gowthaman, Leader, South Asia, Mindshare. Gowthaman added, “Growing urbanization and more consumers with disposable income has meant more opportunities for TV entertainment in homes. The obstacles are the lack of quality content and [viewership] measurement, as the sample we have doesn’t do justice to the heterogeneity of the consumers. We believe TV Adex will continue to grow at 15 per cent per annum as long as our GDP continues to grow at 8 per cent, or more.” Punitha Arumugam, Group CEO at Madison, shared, “Advertising revenues on television closed at around Rs. 12,000 crores (US$2667 million) in 2010 and is expected to grow at more than 20 per cent this year. Television already overtook print display advertising as early as 2009 and today is the single largest medium in mass media advertising in India.” From a broadcaster’s perspective, Rahul Johri, Senior Vice President & General Manager, India, Discovery Networks Asia- Pacific, says “We have witnessed TV networks innovating on content, distribution and consumer appeal. The emergence of regional channels, increases in the number of specialised content channels and programme format innovations have all come about to capaitalise on this new environment and opportunity.” Discovery Network’s recent additions include Discovery Science and Discovery Turbo, an automotive lifestyle channel. Seema Mohapatra, Regional Director, South Asia, BBC Advertising, feels the proliferation of channels is bringing much needed choice to India’s viewers. “The increased competition paves the way for even better quality content, and some seriously entertaining television. The growth in the market is coming largely from the growth in English speaking homes. TAM (Television Audience Measurement) estimates the number of English speaking households at approximately 72.5 million. This is a great opportunity for channels like BBC Entertainment to reach a wider audience, which in turn benefits the advertisers targeting these viewers.” Efficacy TV has the power to deliver compelling connections between brands and consumers. It can deliver experience; not just exposure. In this context, Johri said CPRP (cost per rating point) is an effective guide, but is not the only criteria for appraising a TV network. “In this highly competitive environment, marketers have to employ a range of benchmarks to succeed in the marketplace. The fragmentation of TV audiences has made this broader thinking ever more critical,” Johri said. Mohapatra pointed out that unfortunately the current measurement system is not able to adequately measure all audience segments, and the connections between brands and consumers. Focusing solely on low costs and CPRPs may not be the best way for marketers to choose the ideal platform to deliver their specific objectives and messages, or for engaging with the right audience, she said. “The medium of television is an extremely powerful tool for advertisers as it provides opportunities to reach out to specific audience segments like the upmarket, urban and affluent viewers of BBC Entertainment. The programming is highly engaging with adverts selected to be complementary, rather than intrusive, to the schedule,” Mohapatra said. Challenges Madison’s Arumugam highlighted that in an era where advertisers are exploring the “one-to-one” communication mode, television still is in the “one-to-many” communication mode. Moreover, channels’ efforts to move from the “one to many” mode to the “one-to few” specialist/niche channels have not garnered success as yet, she said. Commenting on the same issue, Sudha Natrajan, President and Chief Operating Officer, Lintas Media Group, said every medium available to consumers today has a specific task both from the point of view of the consumption of the medium as well as advertising on the medium. She elaborated further: As is evident from the chart; “One to many” is not dead in India and can never die, said Gurgaon-based Natrajan. “Mass media like TV and print are critical in a country like India given its literacy levels, psychographics and lifestyles of its people. Internet/digital media can never do what TV and print can do for an advertiser and mass media cannot play the role of digital. This is the beauty of integrated communication, each medium has a specific role to play, and an advertiser hits the jackpot when he or she uses all these media in a seamless fashion keeping the communication objective at the core of it all,” she said. Specialists believe that niche genres like English movies and infotainment are critical to reach affluent Englishspeaking audiences who form the core target group for a lot of categories like consumer durables, travel and automobiles. “The audience for niche content is growing steadily, close to 10-12 per cent of the TV Ad spends of Rs. 14450 (US$3211 million) in 2011-12 is going to these genres. The sampling in TAM of such audiences leaves much to be desired but large advertisers do find these channels extremely effective when measured through their brand tracks,” said Natrajan. Natrajan added that broadcasters have donned the role of narrowcaster from time to time very successfully. She notes that 70 per cent of the TV channels today make 30-40 per cent of their advertising revenue from such initiatives But while “one to one” media like digital and activations drive engagement, the cost of driving that engagement does not justify the continuity of such efforts which is critical especially for media elusive audiences such as youth. “A brand today has multiple target groups thanks to brand extensions and multiple markets to cater too. The key point therefore is that the brand objectives and tasks are dynamic. Therefore, “one to one” engagement is not a panacea for all evils. TV can be used as both a broadcast and narrowcast medium today,” she said. Freshness Industry watchers say for television to remain a powerful medium in India, some radical action is needed to bring freshness to the viewing schedule. “We only have a handful of top rated programmes,” said MindShare’s Gowthaman. “To be honest innovations in TV are showing signs of hitting a plateau. Advertiser funded programmes are becoming prohibitively expensive for advertisers. The innovations are largely tried and tested and nothing major to write home about.” In their quest to keep and increase viewership, channels are investing in high cost programming like reality shows. According to MindShare, approximately 20 per cent of total programming time is devoted to this genre, up from 16 per cent in 2010. These shows have high input costs, which are mainly due to: celebrities, outdoor shoots, expensive production and high marketing costs. “Since this cost of acquisition is not getting offset by corresponding viewership increase, channels are passing on their programming cost to advertisers leading to market inflation. For the advertiser this inflation is becoming untenable. How can television channels hence optimize their programming costs,” asked Madison’s Arumugam. Lintas’ Natrajan said, “Input costs are rising in all industries from automobile to FMCG and from broadcasting to telecom. This is a fact of life which every marketer has learned to live with it. The consumer wants innovation in terms of product, price, distribution and promotion. Innovation always comes with a fixed cost. Marketers in India have realised that minimising costs is not the long-term sustainable route to profitability, maximizing revenue is.” Partnership For long, it has been known that most TV networks rarely share viewer data with advertisers. Most of them are reducing the engagement with marketers and their agencies to the transactional level. On this issue, Mohapatra said the transactional level engagement is a very short-term approach, what TV networks have to offer to advertisers is their audiences, environment and the trust that their audiences place with them. “Agencies will use only numbers to plan their strategies if broadcasters do not share intelligence on who their viewers are and what they are looking for. TV networks, agencies and marketers need to work together to bring real value back to the audience in the long run,” he said, adding that BBC Entertainment and BBC World News have very well-defined audience segments with strong opinions on what they want to see from a brand like this. Said Discovery’s Johri, “While everyone could access similar information, each person analyses it to suit their advantage. However, with growing competition across product categories, marketers and TV networks are working together, more now than ever before, to reach their goals.” From a media agency’s perspective, Natrajan said research on TV and TV viewing behaviour in India is largely limited to TAM. “Research like all things in life costs money; most marketers across industries see research as costs including the marketers of TV channels. This results in the tactical use of research by TV channels as a selling tool. A TV channel typically gets into a research mode during its launch, re-launch or the launch of a programme as a tool for its marketing and sales plan,” she said. Natrajan mentioned that these presentations are shared with clients regularly, kids’ channels like Cartoon Network and Disney do large scale surveys annually which give the advertisers a good understanding of kids as consumers and their TV viewing behaviour. These surveys are shared with advertisers annually. “Now, the moot point is that most advertisers dismiss such surveys as not authentic because of the fact that they have been sponsored by the channel and tend to show them in a good light,” said Natrajan. “This is true of all research. Market research is done to prove a point or hypotheses and to sell a product/service at the end of the day. Marketers need to be more open minded about such researches and the channels should ensure integrity in research design and findings to be as credible as possible. Interactions between channels and their agencies/advertisers has become transactional because both sides just want to take, no one wants to give. If these balances are maintained then engagement can be the only outcome. We should stop thinking of channels/ publications as ‘suppliers’ they are our ‘partners’ and media owners should behave like partners and not like vendors.”