The use of the landing page has been likened to a high-end retail space. Is it a fair marketing tool for broadcasters? In the context of news channels, should we see it differently?
We asked experts in the field to give their opinion.
“Not sustainable, unless it causes a permanent change in viewer behavior…”
– Paritosh Joshi, advisory director-provocateur
There is no point in arguing whether landing pages are a fair or unfair practice, the only question that can be raised is whether it is legal or illegal. If you systematically try to suppress access to competing products or if you try to monopolize in any way, it can be said that fairness is affected – and remedies exist for these too.
I believe the landing page issue has little to do with fairness. We are effectively saying that with proper landing pages, broadcasters have the opportunity to put their product before the consumer and their argument is very simple: we don’t have enough samples and we would like people to taste our products. The same way someone would pay for display space in a grocery store or supermarket.
This is not a new argument in India. About 16 or 17 years ago, the idea that people would pay to be present on a cable company’s network, by paying a carriage fee, started in India, when we were an analog country. It was not a paid service initially. Broadcasters started paying because some of them felt that by doing so they could gain a position where they could stay inside the bouquet rather than outside. This is the story of broadcasters trying to be visible in a competitive environment. At that time, it was a battle to simply be visible on the tuneable frequency in the consumer’s home.
Today the question is will someone see my channel if the channel number is 160 or will they look for it or should I buy landing pages, so that they see it every time he turns on his decoder? If there is no law that has been broken in the process, there should be no problem with that.
On the news channels…
All of these broadcasters basically want to be profitable. According to them, if the landing pages help them increase their income, we hope that the profile will also increase in time. Even if it has a high cost, it may make consumers appreciate the channel. It’s not sustainable, however, unless it causes a permanent change in viewer behavior. The real problem is elsewhere; with the highly regulated system of prices and tariffs”.
“Audience data will be needed in favor of those who can afford it”
– V Chandra Barathi, media consultant
If he is going to promote a TV channel by directing it to the landing page, this will unduly influence the audience data against channels that cannot afford a landing page. Therefore, it cannot be called a fair marketing tool. Yes, it is a revenue-generating tool as long as DPOs (Distribution Platform Operators) are considered. But this will lead to malfeasance that is already happening. Look at the situation where broadcasters have cross-interests, where broadcasters are also distributors. For example, TCCL which owns News Tamil 24X7, VK Digital which owns Polimer News and SCV. Between three of them, TCCL has a connectivity of over 35 lakh, SCV and Sun DTH combined will have a connectivity of over 30 lakh, and VKC has a connectivity of around 20 lakh. If you look at the classification of BARC news channels in Tamil Nadu, the top three channels are Polimer, News Tamil 24X7 and Sun News. These three actors have transversal interests, they are the substantial stakeholders of these distribution networks (either the distribution network owns the channel, or the reverse).
Imagine, a player like Thanthi TV which has over 75 years of experience in print media and channels like Puthiya Thalamurai and News18 Tamil which is part of a very big network in India. Their positions are around 4th, 5th and 6th. These lower-tier players will never have the ability to access the landing page, while news channels belonging to the distribution network may land in homes where they have connectivity. These three players are favorably positioned when it comes to giving inflated data through the landing page. How can it become a fair marketing practice or tool?
As for GEC players domestically, ZEE has its Siti Cable, Star has Den Network, for players like Sony, Colors, etc. who do not have their own network, they are disadvantaged because they have to spend a lot of time. money on landing page.
In my opinion, landing pages for cross media owners should not be allowed at all, either as an individual program or as a channel. Ideally, BARC should sample outside of these networks.
On the news channels….
The landing page is used for promotions. As mentioned earlier, if a new channel launch happens, to keep people informed about the same, for this limited statement and with this type of on-screen material, landing pages may be permitted as a promotional tool and marketing.
“Everyone tries to outsmart the system all the time”
– Chintamani Rao, Strategic Marketing and Media Consultant
The landing page problem is just another comment on the pathetic state of broadcasting in India, especially news broadcasting.
Everyone tries to outsmart the system all the time. From panel tampering to multiple LCNs (logical channel numbers) to landing pages, they are always looking for new ways to outsmart the system. This is how they seek to earn grades – that, and the bile-spitting night cries. There is no more journalism: it’s dead. When the ED report came out the other day, some chains went to town saying they were right and everyone else was wrong. This may be news for broadcasters, but is it news for their viewers? Do viewers care?
The same people sit together on industry bodies, and everyone’s agenda is to protect the interests of their own channels, not the broader interests of the industry. This is why bodies are incapable of imposing anything. And if they or the regulator attempt to initiate an action or policy, broadcasters appeal to TDSAT or to court.
Now the Zee News channels have left BARC. Previously, NDTV had done this. No one left the rating system when TAM was the rating provider.
They wanted an industry-run system, and it’s been mired in controversy since it started. Again, it’s because everyone is looking after their own interests, to hell with the industry.
“Landing pages are marketing gimmicks”
– Anil Ayroor, Group COO, Insight Media (24 and Flowers TV)
In marketing, I rarely find fair practices; it’s all about competition. Those who have the ability will make better campaigns. Ultimately, your content is king. If the content of the channel is not good and the channel has a landing page, it will not work. Viewers prefer good content. In the case of 24, in Asianet Cable Vision, we got the 6th channel position after all the news channels, we are still #2 and very close to #1. MSOs will market the landing pages so smart and broadcasters will fall for it and lose money.
Landing pages are marketing gimmicks that allow some marketers to show that their position is intact. We are bound to trust the current scoring system which is not error free as mentioned in the ED report of the Mumbai High Court in the tampering investigation.