Digital gaining market share

Six free analogue TV stations are likely to lose about 40% of their viewership this year because of digital TV, says IPG, a leading media agency.

Kanokkarn Prajongsaengsri, director for strategy and innovation at IPG media brands, said declining analogue TV ratings are caused by the change in Thailand’s media landscape.

A survey by the Media Agency Association of Thailand (MAAT) showed consumer awareness about digital TV has increased by 91%, particularly from people living in Bangkok and major cities. They believe digital TV will improve the quality of viewing with clearer pictures and sounds as well as a variety of channels.

Some 24 digital TV channels are available on cable and satellite TV, particularly PSI and TrueVisions. The survey also showed the installation of set-top boxes to convert analogue signals to digital has increased by 7%.

Ms Kanokkarn estimated the increase in choices would lead to a 40% decline in viewership for analogue TV channels in the near future. During the two months of digital TV broadcast trials, these channels strengthened their viewership.

The survey also found viewership of every type of TV programme on analogue channels declined. Soap operas dipped 36% for both afternoon slots of re-run soaps and prime-time slots. Feature films decreased 31%, sitcoms 50%, news 26%, game shows 44%, news commentary 89%, children’s programmes 60%, variety programmes 67%, sports 50%, documentaries 100% and music 67%.

Although some households have installed the equipment to watch digital TV, there remains confusion about the channel numbering and unstable signal transmission.

For May TV ratings, Workpoint TV and Channel 8 were the two most-watched channels, followed by Thairath TV and Nation TV. Most of these were previously satellite TV stations and their channels have easy-to-remember numbers on satellite TV.

To gain more viewers, channel owners must prioritise the viewing platform and improve the quality of content, Ms Kanokkarn said. Channel branding is also a must.

“The distribution of digital TV subsidy vouchers is expected to help digital TV channels attract more viewers,” she said.

She agreed the coupons could be applied to satellite and cable TV set-top boxes as 70% of Thai households use these platforms, and they will help digital TV channels gain more viewers.

For media agencies, free TV stations are still the priority for advertising as  =they have kept strong viewership, though their ad cost effectiveness may decline.

Channel 3 and Channel 7 reach 74% and 77% of viewers, respectively, followed by Channel 5 at 53% and Channel 9 at 55%. The new digital TV channels can only reach around 30%, with Channel 8 at 28%, Workpoint 32% and Thairath TV 24%.

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