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"Why people watch more number of channels now" - LV Krishnan
On the first day of the event, TV.NXT, LV Krishnan, CEO, TAM Media Research, gave a presentation on 'Thought Leadership Series - The Future of Indian TV audiences'. He highlighted the important changes in the television industry in the last few years.

He said that technology is definitely making inroads and changing the bandwidth in which television is shown. Technology has helped in showcasing the content in better formats, such as HD and 3G.

He said that a revolution was happening in the mindsets of the audiences, as far as content is concerned. Discussing the future of television audiences in India, he pointed out that many guesstimates cite the Indian television market to be overcrowded, with a large number of channels. Hence, it is perceived that there is no scope for new entrants or new genres to survive.

"From the perspective of content, there are about 1 lakh half-an-hour programmes being delivered every year. And Rs 1 billion advertising taking place across various channels that the consumers access." He added that information is disseminated not only through channels, but also through word of mouth, radio, print, video and online.

He explained that the viewing time of the audience has also changed with time - the audience now consumes content throughout the day. With the new generation coming into the picture, the old TV viewing habits have changed. They are no longer restricted to two or three channels; rather, the audience has access to numerous channels.

Krishnan also cited some numbers to illustrate the growth of TV content. In 2008, there were 389 channels, which grew to 461 in 2009. In 2010, there are 510 TV channels in the country. This expansion has happened across all genres - as of now, information and news genre has a total of 111 channels, and there are 70 regional GECS. The number of programmes sampled by the viewers during primetime in a week has increased from 222 in 2007 to 297 in 2009. He said that advertisers today have a lot to choose from; and advertisers take single or multiple options, depending on their requirements.

He said that though attention seeking has become easier, grabbing loyalty is becoming "tougher and tougher" with every passing day.

In order to forecast the viewing behaviour of the audience, TAM Media Research carried out a study to look at things that affect the viewing habits of the audiences. The study analysed two key elements -- time spent on television viewing across genres; and the attention span of the viewer on one genre, before shifting to another genre.

The study revealed that there are different types of viewers. One set of viewers doesn't get much time to watch television and therefore, is selective in its viewing preferences. "Viewers, who fall under this category, are clear about their viewing preferences. Therefore, surfing is minimal as they do not indulge heavily in switching. "On the other hand, there is a second category that spends a huge amount of time on television; but they watch a lot of content in bits and pieces."

The third category of viewers spends a large chunk of time watching television, but comprises light switchers or surfers. These viewers stick to one channel at a given point in time. They like watching television and get involved with the content. "For this type of audience, the content has to be of high quality, so that the attention does not get divided." He further stressed that the increased role of technology is the reason behind the increase in switching.

Krishnan pointed out that light switchers and light viewers, on an average, spend 17 minutes on television and barely switch once, which means they knows "when to watch what". Since 2007, this segment of viewers has shown an increase of 46 per cent in the time spent per switch on TV. For the last three years, this section has shown an increase from 4 minutes of time spent on TV to 17 minutes now. Similarly, the switching has gone up from 0.4 to 1.

On the other hand, the time spent on television by a second set of viewers, categorised as heavy viewers, is 272 minutes this year, registering a decrease of 6 per cent since 2007. The group switches the channel around 33 times in the same period this year. "In a single viewing session, a viewer of this category surfs madly." The time spent on television by this group was 291 minutes in 2007.

A third section of the viewers, who are heavy time spenders on television but are light switchers, spend around 209 minutes on TV. During this time, they switch channels some 14 times, which is about 50 per cent less than the heavy viewers. For this category, the time spent on television has increased since 2007, when it was 138 minutes. Also, the number of switches has increased from 11 in 2007 to 14 in 2010 - an increase of 12 per cent in the time spent per switch.

For a fourth category of viewers, who are heavy switchers but light time spenders, the time spent has increased from 41 minutes in 2007 to 65 minutes now; and the number of switches has gone up from 5 to 8 in the last three years.

"The trend shows that while the light viewer or the light switcher has become more loyal over the last three years, the heavy time spent viewer has become more flirtatious," said Krishnan.

He said that light time spenders and light switchers prefer niche content. Kids, music, English movies, Hindi movies and infotainment form a small but important genre for this segment of viewers. On the other hand, the other segment -- which is the opposite of the above category - spends more time watching GEC content than other genres.

He said that the three segments that emerge as the future set of viewers are the clinging generation, the impatient generation and the trendy generation. He explained that the trendy generation is faster in evolution; it comprises trend changers, who are connected, opinionated and closer to the Western world. "They are the loyalty breakers and are available across the day for walk-ins. Primarily, they are youth and kids (10+ years). There has been a tremendous increase in the consumption of non-fiction content for this section of viewers."

The second set of future viewers, the clinging generation, is described as slow in evolution and following a set tradition. They are influenced by neighbours, relatives and friends. For them, the excitement is in the form of story linked to the characters. This set of viewers takes time to build loyalty. This set comprises primarily housewives and elderly females, who primarily consume soap content, with movies and news also forming an integral part of the menu. This section forms 64 per cent of the television viewing market.

The third set of viewers, the impatient generation, is fast in surfing and looks for instant gratification. For this section, excitement is not in the story, but in packaging and delivery of content. They are instant audience builders and it is not easy to set loyalty for this section. They primarily consume sports, movies and news.

He pointed out that across genres, the drop in viewership during breaks is more than 20 per cent, with the minimum drop happening in the GEC space during prime time.

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