DTH players keen to roll out hybrid set-top boxes

Bindu D Menon Mumbai | Updated on March 16, 2018 Published on March 16, 2018

Return path data technology is used globally for collecting viewership data   -  G_RAMAKRISHNA

Move to leverage return path data tech to get insight into TV viewership

Major DTH players are looking to introduce hybrid set-top boxes to gauge consumer viewing pattern using return path data (RPD) technology. Experts note that this move comes as television viewing is undergoing a sea-change from linear to digital.

Earlier this week, two major players Dish TV and Airtel DTH announced their plans to deploy hybrid set-top boxes.

Dish said it is in the advanced stage of deploying return path data technology in its hybrid set-top boxes and has so far deployed around three million hybrid set-top boxes.

Airtel DTH, meanwhile, has entered into tie up with television viewership measurement agency BARC to set up RPD in subscribers homes. BARC had last year also partnered with cable network DEN Network for installing RPD panel in subscribers home.

Measuring TV viewership

RPD is used globally for collecting viewership data. BARC will use DTH players subscriber base to measure TV viewership via RPD.

“Media landscape is fast changing. Big data, increased broadband speeds, sophisticated smart devices, user-generated content platforms: all this is putting the consumer in the driving seat. Change in consumer behaviour continues to compel companies to invest in niche, gripping content and engage directly. Thus, the need for consumer-behaviour data analytics. “With more choice available in a crowded marketplace, companies vie to catch eyeballs. Advertisers continue to find it difficult to reach their audiences on traditional platforms, paving the way for an unprecedented increase in digital ad-spends. Therefore, technologies which help in understanding the change in consumer preferences and analysing these patterns are of paramount importance,”says Priyanka Chaudhury, Partner, Grant Thornton.

Panel home size

Currently, most cable/ DTH operators in India do not have information on how their subscribers consume content. Currently BARC’s meters BAR-O-meters — fetch data directly from the TV channels by watermarking the audio. Following setting up of RPD, the two-way system will help measure data by sending signals to the backend directly.

BARC, meanwhile, says that a mechanism like RPD will make its data more robust and help address the issue of panel home tampering.

“Panel home expansion is critical for us considering the diversity in the country which is visible even in the way TV content is consumed. RPD, will give the industry a cost-effective way of expanding panel home size. The distribution platform owners too will benefit with RPD. It will give them a better understanding into what their subscribers are consuming on TV. This will help the industry at large,” said Romil Ramgarhia, CBO, BARC India.

Sunil Taldar, CEO, DTH, Bharti Airtel, said: “A credible resource like this will benefit the entire ecosystem including content producers, marketers and help in enhancing the experience for customers.”

Till date, Dish TV has deployed around 3 million hybrid set-top boxes in the market.

Asked if the company plans to replace the existing set-top boxes, Dish said that it didn’t plan to do the same. “We are not replacing existing STBs. However, all new acquisitions will be on hybrid boxes. From a consumer standpoint, there will be no additional cost,” a Dish spokesperson said. Industry analysts also point that the mechanism will help advertisers understand how ads are being consumed.

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Published on March 16, 2018
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