A few lessons learned from one-month digital TV trial

A month of Digital TV broadcasting trials has passed in Thailand

Thailand’s National Institute of Development Administration (NIDA) conducted a survey “Thailand’s access to the digital TV system”, with 1221 respondents from various levels of education, age and occupation across Thailand.

The survey was conducted from April 28 to April 29, 2014 via telephone interviews. The respondents was asked about their understanding of the digital TV system, how they received TV today, and if they knew how to receive digital TV.

Of the 1221 surveyed, the majority (61.99%) was watching TV through a satellite dish and satellite set-top box, from companies like PSI, DTV, True, etc.

21.47% received TV signals via either a rooftop antenna system, or an in-door antenna.
15.74% received TV via a cable TV system.
0.48% did not know/not sure how they received the TV signals.
0.32% did not have a TV / Watched at the neighbors – or via internet.

People’s understanding of the difference between “Analogue TV” and “Digital TV”

46.27% stated they had no understanding
26.62% stated they had some understanding
23.18% stated they had a little understanding.
3.93% stated they had a very good level of understanding.

How to watch digital TV?

46.76% stated that they did not know how to watch digital TV.
27.44% stated they had some understanding
19.33% stated they had little understanding
6.47% stated that they had a very good level of understanding

Free-to-air analogue TV channels ratings drops

Atipol Ithivatana, chief executive of Starcom MediaVest Group, told Bangkok Post that Thailand’s free analogue TV channels had shown a drop in ratings during the digital TV broadcast trial. However, this drop in ratings might be due to the rearrangement of channel numbers on satellite and cable TV platforms to comply with the channel number regulation from NBTC, as half of the TV rating sample is pulled from the satellite TV platform.

Nielsen Thailand reported that the ratings of free-to-air TV channels had dropped by 6% since the digital TV broadcast trials launched April 1.

The Workpoint TV Channel was the most-watched channel, followed by Channel 8 and New)TV, who took advantage of having an existing viewer base on the satellite TV platform. Newly established TV stations such as THV Channel and Thairath TV have gained 20,000-60,000 viewers.

Among the viewers in Bangkok Voice TV 21 was the most-watched digital TV channel, followed by:

  • Workpoint TV
  • RS Channel 8
  • New)TV
  • TNN 24
  • Nation TV

While up-country viewers still favored the existing free-to-air TV channels, particularly Channel 3 and Channel 7. However, none of the information above was provide with any numbers or data to back up the claim.

It is still too early to use these ratings as an indicator, as Thailand is in the middle of a digital TV broadcast trial and not a full-scale commercial launch. To get useful data we will have to wait for all the digital TV station to commence full broadcast and then gather data and ratings over a couple of months.

As the first stage of digital TV in Thailand is limited to Bangkok Nakhon Ratchasima, Chiang Mai and Songkhla the data will provide insight from viewership in these areas plus those in the rest of the country, who receive the new channels via satellite and/or cable.

According to Bangkok Post, Thailand’s media agencies forecast that the digital TV penetration will increase rapidly to 70-80%, due to the regulators (NBTC) must-carry rule. Thai people are quick to adopt new technology, given the migration to 3G mobile services and the proliferation of smartphones.

Mr Atipol said the current fluctuation of TV ratings has affected media buying costs as the cost per rating point is higher and the viewers’ reach may be lower. Therefore, Starcom will use its evaluation tools to decide on media buying. Media agencies evaluate potential TV channels on their ratings and channel profiles, which should be among the top positions in each content segment.

Patamawan Sathaporn, managing director of Mindshare Thailand, told Bangkok Post, that they would suggest their clients to allocate about 10% of their ad budgets to digital TV channels, and increase if the ratings warrant it.

Author: Allan Rasmussen
Managing director at Yozzo. Allan is a MVNA/MVNE/MVNO specialist with hands-on experience from more than 60 projects in both competitive and greenfield markets. His expertise includes business case development, execution, launch and growth strategies. Advisor and consultant to mobile network operators, MVNA, MVNE, MVNO, National Regulatory Authorities, Government Agencies, Broadcast Companies, TMT Industry Associations, Innovation and Investment Banks.

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