Ratings efficiency under the scanner at FICCI Frames 2016

2015 saw the arrival of a new TV viewership measurement body in India – Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) India, a joint industry body that was set up in line with the Government of India’s guidelines by an industry that had been seeking a robust and transparent ratings system. BARC India launched its services in end-April 2015. Over the last eight months, the industry has successfully adopted and adapted to the new system, which is now the largest in the world.

However, in line with the varied profiles of viewers in the country, their many languages and socio-economic profiles, how can industry better decode TV viewership and thereby make more intelligent use of viewership data?

The session on ‘Lord of the Ratings - The BARC Order’ saw leaders from the broadcast and advertising sectors share their experience of using the new ratings systems, and also debate ways to make more intelligent reading of this vast data.

Moderated by Paritosh Joshi, CEO, India TV, the panel discussion featured Partho Dasgupta, CEO, BARC India; Raj Nayak, CEO, Colors; Shashi Sinha, CEO, IPG Mediabrands; and Hitesh Chawla, CEO and Co-founder, Silver Push.

In his opening remarks, Shashi Sinha noted that nowhere in the world had an effort like BARC been pulled off. While referring to the comment of Ravi Shankar Prasad, Minister of Communications & Information Technology, in his address yesterday that India needed a better rating system, Sinha wondered as to why the Minister had made that statement since the Government was involved in the process of BARC’s formation since the beginning. He further added that any kind of change took time, and the same applied to TV measurement as well.

In response to Paritosh Joshi’s question on why the BARC data was so “volatile”, Partho Dasgupta countered by saying that things were rapidly changing and in this scenario, things were meant to be volatile. “Basically, the audience’s behaviour changes on a daily basis and so does the content. The activities that humans do change week on week, month on month. So, on the supply side there are newer shows. This is the way we keep data as it is and this is how it should be,” he added. Dasgupta further noted that the volatility came not from the GECs, but mostly from the niche channels.

Here Raj Nayak pointed out, “We are measuring content not viewership. BARC’s work is to roll out data and not to say which channel is No. 1 or No. 2. I strongly feel that free-to-air (FTA) channels and pay channels should be rated separately.”

Meanwhile, sharing his experience, Silver Push’s Hitesh Chawla remarked that economics did make a sense in his line of business since it depended entirely on data.

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