Digital television steadily gaining ground
A recent survey by the Media Agency Association of Thailand (MAAT) showed that consumer awareness regarding digital television had increased massively, especially from people living in Bangkok and major regional centres.
IPG, a leading media agency, has suggested six free analogue TV stations could lose up to 40 percent of their viewership this year because of the gaining strength of digital TV. This, says IPG, will lead to a major paradigm shift in Thailand’s media landscape.
At present there are 24 digital TV channels available on cable and satellite, with the two market leaders being PSI and True Visions.
The MMAT survey also showed that the installation of set-top boxes to convert analogue signals to digital had increased by seven percent. That figure should jump significantly in the coming months as people lock into the desire for better quality of viewing with clearer pictures and sounds.
A spokesperson for IPG estimated the increase in choices will see analogue TV channel viewership decline by as much as 40 percent.
The survey also found some changes in the viewing habits of the average Thai TV watcher. For example, viewing numbers for every type of analogue TV program has declined. The biggest percentage declines were witnessed by analogue TV documentaries (an incredible 100 percent), followed by news commentary (89 percent), variety programs and music (67 percent each), children’s programs (60 percent), sitcoms and sports (50 percent each), game shows (44 percent), feature films (31 percent), soap operas (36 percent), and news (26 percent).
These numbers are set to be further eroded once the signal transmissions for digital TV become more reliable.
For media agencies, free TV stations are still the main priority when it comes to advertising. Despite the gaining strength of digital TV, stations such as Channel 7 and Channel 3 continue to reach vast audiences (77 percent and 74 percent of viewers respectively according to recent surveys), while Channel 9 reaches 55 percent and Channel 5 53 percent.
By comparison, the new digital TV channels only penetrate around 30 percent of the viewing market.
Nonetheless, the growth of the new TV media is unstoppable. According to figures released by MAAT, in 2007 there were 19.1 million households with television. Of these, 89 percent were watching via terrestrial TV as opposed to nine percent on cable and three percent on satellite.
By 2011 these numbers had changed to 50 percent on terrestrial TV, 11 percent on cable, and 31 percent on satellite out of 22 million households with television.
In 2013 it was satellite TV which held the lion’s share, at 49 percent compared to terrestrial TV which had been reduced to just 32 percent of the viewing audience overall.