Dec 18, 2008

India - TAM domination threatened as govt eyes aMap tie-up

Ashish Sinha

In a move that will challenge the domination of television viewership rating company TAM (Television Audience Measurement), Prasar Bharati is planning to tie up with rival online rating agency aMap to collect and generate data, which will focus on rural homes across the country.

The move will help the marketers get a detailed insight into the demographic profile of the rural population residing in over 5,000 towns, where Doordarshan is a popular network, as well as a dominant force to reckon with. Out of the total 80 million cable and satellite homes, industry estimates around 20 per cent are in rural India. However, there are over 50 million television homes in rural India which get nothing but Doordarshan.

According to the proposal, this panel will be funded by Prasar Bharati, with some investments from the online television ratings monitoring agency aMap. Initially, the rural panel will have a sample size of 2,000 homes, at a one-time cost of about Rs 10 crore and a recurring cost of Rs 4.65 crore. According to Prasar Bharati, this investment would be recovered within two years of operations from the sale of data to the interested parties.

According to Prasar Bharati, such a move will also end the monopoly of TAM that currently supplies the viewership data, based on sample size of about 10,000 homes in 23 urban-towns that excludes several states like Jammu and Kashmir, Bihar and the seven states in the North-East.

But based on the current TAM's rating data, the course of about Rs 8,000 crore worth of advertising revenue spent by the marketers like FMCG, auto, banking, telecom, education and others is decided.

“The current ratings mechanism based on the data collected from 23 towns is not enough. If somehow the rural market is mapped, it will help the media planners divert their ad-spendings in a much better manner,” said Anita Nayyar, CEO, Havas Media, a Gurgaon-based leading media agency.

Additionally, based on the viewership profile, demographics, spending habits and other relevant parameters, aMap and Prasar Bharati may churn more data on the rural market that will be available on a fees, government sources said.

Prasar Bharati has made these suggestions before the Standing Committee on Information Technology that is looking into the issue of television audience measurement in the country.

“The state will have to fund any such initiative whenever it decides to roll it out. The data captured from the rural homes will be of immense help to the marketers to get a better access to the rural markets and their mindsets,” Amit Varma, CEO, aMap said.

However, according to experts, the sample homes will have to be scaled up to at least 20,000 rural homes and an investment of about Rs 200 crore to Rs 250 crore will be required to get the marketers interested.

Recently, broadcasters received the go ahead to set up their own alternative rating agency. However, work on setting up alternative ratings agencies, controlled by the broadcasters and advertisers together, is still to begin.

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