Sorting out a jigsaw puzzle called North-east India

A new tool designed especially for the North-east allows broadcasters, advertisers and media agencies to check the availability and discern the accurate reach of a particular channel across each of the seven north-eastern states, along with Sikkim.

North-east India has always remained a mystery for television broadcasters, advertisers, as well as media planning agencies when it comes to mapping the reach of television channels across the entire region beyond Guwahati. A new tool called Chrome NE, by Chrome Data Analytics & Media, unravels the mystery by tracking the cable and satellite households across the region, making it a profitable destination for all three stakeholders.

Elaborating on the tool, Pankaj Krishna, founder and chief executive officer, Chrome Data Analytics & Media, says, "The North-east region was a major blind spot for every broadcaster and advertiser. The new tool facilitates media vehicles to get valuable insights into the millions of C&S households in these eight states."

The entire North-east region has approximately 4.15 million cable and satellite (C&S) homes (analog). Currently, there are about 626 channels on air in India, of which approximately 312 are news channels, and 314 are non-news channels. The government has granted up-linking permission to about 75 channels and has received application for 29 new channels between July 2010 and January 2011. Over all, there are only 107 bands available in the analog platform, which allows carrying of only 100 channels.

In terms of quality of reception, Prime and Colour bands are best followed by S-Band, Hyper band and UHF band. Therefore, carriage fee is decided based on the band the broadcaster wants its channel to be carried on.

As part of the process to collect the data for census, the media research company has identified panel homes, wherein a set-top box (main head-end) is installed that transposes any of the available channels from a cable television service to an analog RF signal on a single channel, which is then used to identify the frequency of the channel. In each area, that panel home is further connected to three parallel homes within a radius of 3 kms. The parallel home technique is used to monitor the transmission quality of individual channels across panel homes. The set-top boxes thus record the availability of each channel.

"Currently, most advertisers, media planners and buyers look at data pertaining to Guwahati alone and are forced to assume that the same is true for all other states across the North-east. This is not at all the case, since many channels are available either only in Guwahati or in Assam and not in the rest of the states and vice-versa. Chrome NE will actually show the weighted connectivity of channels, along with individual details of bands and frequencies across head-ends, cities and states," adds Jeffrey Crasto, executive director, Chrome Data Analytics & Media.

The Findings

The result of the census conducted last week shows that in case of general entertainment channels (GECs), when Guwahati is taken as the sample, the reach of all GECs such as Star Plus, Colors, Zee TV, Sony, SAB, Imagine and STAR Utsav is 100 per cent. However, the census shows that Star Plus has the highest reach across the North-east as it is accessible in 67 per cent of the total C&S households, followed by Colors and Zee TV, which have a reach of 65 per cent.

Next in line is Sony, with 60 per cent reach, followed by SAB with 47 per cent, and Imagine with 37 per cent reach. At the end is STAR Utsav, with 36 per cent availability.

In case of music and youth channels, once again, the reach of all channels is 100 per cent when Guwahati is taken as the benchmark. However, the reality shows that MTV is being made available to 61 per cent households of the total C&S households in the region. Trailing behind is Channel [V] with 42 per cent reach, followed by 9XM with 41 per cent reach.

UTV Bindass is available to 35 per cent C&S households. At the end is VH1; the channel is accessible to 21 per cent C&S households.

Meanwhile, in case of news channels, when Guwahati is taken as the sample to represent the North-east region, the data shows that while STAR News is available to all the households with 100 per cent reach, followed by the rest of the news channels (namely Zee News, Aaj Tak, DD News and IBN7) with 12 per cent reach. The data from Chrome NE shows that STAR News has 55 per cent reach, followed by Zee News with 54 per cent reach. While Aaj Tak is available to 43 per cent C&S households, DD News has 42 per cent reach. Lastly, the data shows that IBN7 has 23 per cent reach.

Therefore, in this case, channels such as News Live 24x7 and Frontier TV, which actually have 55 per cent and 44 per cent reach, respectively, across the region, lose out in the race as the channels have zero reach when Guwahati is taken as the sample.

The census, released every Monday, provides an insight into the total number of channels that viewers had access to, apart from other details such as at what band the channel was being made available on across eight states including Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim.