Landing page row: Why a marketing ploy has become a raging debate

The issue of broadcasters using landing page and even watermarking them is a topic of intense debates in the industry currently. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), addressing the issue of dual LCNs, recently issued a release directing MSOs carrying a channel on its network to place that channel in the genre so declared by the broadcaster of that channel and not place that channel at more than one LCN under multiple genres simultaneously. 

Following this, the issue of landing page/ channel came to the fore. Using a landing page adds reach to the channel that is live streaming with its watermark. If the viewer likes the content and continues to watch for longer, then it adds to time spent. If this is done with an MSO where their connections are concentrated in a certain market where the content affinity is high, it will help dramatically increase reach, GTVTs and market share. 

Since advertising revenue is the most predominant source of revenue for most broadcasters, any skew in ratings affects the channel and its competitors and the advertising revenue thereof. 

Not a new phenomenon, landing page has been used by broadcasters as a marketing tool. But now with these channels been watermarked, there are strong reactions emerging. 

This is the reason why mailers sent by India Today Television specifically mention “No dual feed, no landing page, No. 1 on real content”. We could see more from other channels as well in the coming days. 

Avinash Pandey, COO, ABP News, explained that cable operators or service providers have been offering the landing page for advertising purposes, while media owners have been using the landing page to encourage viewers to sample their content. According to him, “The issue has come into prominence now because post complaints to the Delhi High Court, TRAI clarified the law stating that dual LCNs are not allowed and everybody has to strictly implement it.” 

Pandey further said, “If you are running a full channel on the landing page which is watermarked, and also running the same channel as the original channel, then I think this would be a violation of law as it in conflict with the TRAI regulation on dual LCNs. BARC measures a channel only if it is watermarked. 

In a similar vein, a leading broadcaster who did not wish to be named, said, “Landing channel/ page is not an issue. In fact, it’s a platform for MSOs to showcase content, promos, advertising, etc. It is a great platform for even broadcasters to promote their new shows/ channel as long as they are doing so without the BARC watermark. If it carries a watermark, then it is very potent dual, which will result in forced reach. Since the set top box starts up at the landing every time, the viewer has no choice and this, coupled by frequent power cuts in small towns, keeps adding to the issue if the watermark is allowed.” 

When asked if TRAI had issued any letter to broadcasters on the landing page issue, Pandey replied in the negative and remarked, “Landing page is an individual matter between the broadcasters and TRAI. It has nothing to do with the industry body. If an individual broadcaster is trying to break the law, then TRAI can take up the matter with that broadcaster.” 

Pandey is firmly of the view that the industry needs to follow the rule laid down by TRAI that clearly states there should be no dual LCNs. 

A leading broadcaster on conditions of anonymity said, “A lot of MSOs generate revenue from Value Add services, which include monetisation of the landing channel. A lot of them lease the space to advertisers to run content/ advertising and to Tele Shopping clients. It can be used by broadcasters for promotion as well as long at the BARC watermark is disallowed by TRAI on any live streaming on the landing/ barker channel.” 

Further speaking on the current legal provisions to address the dual LCNs and landing page issues, the broadcaster informed that TRAI requires the MSO/ DTH/ DPO to carry a specified content channel within its stipulated genre and not on any other frequency/ dual frequency. “Landing channel is nothing but dual frequency, but with an ability to dramatically alter ratings and viewership for that channel,” he maintained. 

Meanwhile, Sunil K Gupta, Principal Advisor, TRAI, told Adgully, “The matter will be dealt as per the Regulations. TRAI has already issued a press release in the matter.” 

When contacted, BARC officials refrained from commenting on the issue.


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