New Delhi: While the industry had just started moving on from the storm of Multiple LCN after the recent order from TRAI, the next big headache for the industry is seems to be brewing in the form of Broadcasters’ Landing Channel deals with MSO as the same needs the immediate attention of the regulators with a possibility of being the loose end in the distribution system that gives an undue advantage for a Broadcaster to spike up his viewership just by striking an exclusive or premium deal with the MSO and DTH Operators.
What is Landing / breaker / Home Channel deals?
Landing is nothing but dual LCN which opens up as the first channel when you switch-on your set top box. In the present days digitized Cable or DTH distribution system. The DTH Operator or MSO has the control over the opening or landing channel option of his subscriber the moment he switches on the TV Channel. That means the subscriber will end up consuming a particular channel when he switches on his TV.
For Example if an X channel strikes a Landing Channel deal with an MSO or DTH operator. Then the subscribers of the particular MSO or DTH will be voluntarily or involuntarily end up watching the X Channel the moment he switch on his TV set.
Impact of Landing Channel deals…!
The practice of Landing Channel deal between Broadcasters and MSOs were prevailing long since and both Entertainment Channels and News Broadcasters are using it to either to increase the sampling or to spike up their viewership ratings. In-fact it was a major money-spinner for the MSOs and DTH operators, as they will be charging premium and it serves as an additional sources of revenue.
Until now the industry was considering the same as a common strategy to boost up their viewership reach and ratings. However, the recent order of
TRAI notifying MSOs on the illegality of Multiple LCN or Dual LCN triggers a debate on the practice of Landing Channel deals also as the same seems to be having a far reaching impact on the viewership of a channel with a serious question on the legitimacy on the ways and means of achieving additional viewership through the adaptation of such kind of tricks at the MSO level.
Trigger for the issue…!
The issue could have been comfortably forgotten but for the letter of advocate Mr. Pankaj Kumar (Copy of the letter with us) who addressed the issue before TRAI on 1st June 2017, in which he has divulged the list of DPOs that are placing English News Channel Times NOW in Dual LCNs with Home Channel facility in return of attractive incentives.
The letter reveals that Times NOW is placed at channel number 100 in LCN 1 across as-many-as 6 MSOs and in channel number 1 in LCN 1 by 3 MSOs and in Airtel DTH the channel was placed in Home Channel of the DTH platform. The MSOs were spread across the city of Mumbai, New Delhi, Kolkata prominently with other cities MSO in Chennai, Hyderabad and Ahmedabad were also featuring in it.
Comparative Analysis: (Data ratified by BARC)
Based on the letter a comparative analysis on the reach (unduplicated weekly cov (000)) of the channel during the past couple of weeks discloses the following figures:
Mumbai: In Week 19’17, reach of Times Now increased by 338% compared to the average of Week 12 to 17 of 2017.
Delhi: In Week 19’17, reach of Times Now increased by 380% compared to cumulative average of Wk 12 to 18 of 2017
Kolkata: In Wk. 19’17, reach of Times Now increased by 341% compared to cumulative average of Wk 12 to 17 of 2017.
WB-Below 75L Urban: In Wk 19’17, reach of Times Now increased by 374% compared to cumulative average of Wk 12 to Wk. 17 of 2017
Apparently, Such a large-scale swing in the reach of the channel should result in increasing viewership of the channel during the forthcoming week’s ratings and it will be interesting to see the pattern of change in viewership too.
While the industry regulator TRAI has addressed the Multiple / Dual LCN issues in a timely manner. It will be interesting to see how TRAI will be reacting to Advocate Pankaj Kumar¹s letter notifying a possible usage of dual LCN in the form of Landing that needs to be addressed immediately to ensure the possibility of artificial consumption of content does not impact on ratings.
While the cash rich broadcast networks might tend to exploit this route to spike up their numbers, the MSO’s can use these platforms for promotion of TV channels without the feed carrying the BARC Watermark so that it does not give any broadcaster an unfair advantage should it impact the ratings. Similarly, the broadcaster could use only channel / show promos and not the linear feed (with BARC watermark) to promote its channel or upcoming shows and leave the choice to the viewer to decide to consume or not.
Will TRAI react soon to nip this issue at brewing stage itself…?