TV ratings which were discontinued due to the infamous rigging scandal, are back now. On January 12, 2022, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting announced that the Broadcast Audience Research Council of India (BARC) will resume news ratings with immediate effect. The announcement came after the TRP Committee said it has taken initiatives to revise its protocols and mechanisms. This has brought what is believed to be relief to broadcasters, who were struggling to ask more from the advertiser in the absence of a metric system.“The only purpose and usage of TRP is to provide a return on investment (ROI) to advertisers. With the TRP ratings, a channel is able to provide data related to eyeballs to advertisers who can then plan their advertising spends. The suspension of TRP ratings had resulted in the loss of credibility and revenue,” Barun Das, CEO, TV9 Network, told BrandWagon Online.
To be clear, television rating points (TRP) for news were suspended for over 15 months following the controversy surrounding the alleged TRP scam in October 2020. As a result, it is believed that many advertisers flocked to digital from TV. For Jehil Thakkar, partner, Deloitte India, it has been a black hole in terms of ratings for a while now. “One major issue which the industry has been facing over time is that there has been a lot of transitioning of revenue to digital. Now, if the television sector doesn’t have currency at all and digital is measured in some cases down to the individual, it makes TV far less competitive as a medium to an advertiser,” he explained.
However, some industry stakeholders believe that the recent directive from MIB is rather abrupt and premature. “The reason ratings had been suspended was because the majority of News channels found that numbers published by BARC for the genre at that time were not dependable. There were allegations of tampering of data inside BARC. The break was taken to improve the processes and come to the consensus that adequate safeguards had been put in place,” MK Anand, MD and CEO, Times Network, highlighted. For Anand, the lack of measurement didn’t make much of a difference on ad revenue as advertisers are not always looking for ROI first media based on quantitative parameters but also look for qualitative parameters such as trust, sagacity, seriousness, among others. “In these 15 months, marketers have continued to advertise on News channels. In fact, there has been healthy growth in news ad spends,” he added.
Interestingly, media planners believe there is no one way of quantifying the actual impact of lack of TRPs on advertising revenue of news channels. “While some clients reduced their spends due to lack of a measurement system, others decided to spend based on various other parameters and hence remained with the medium. There was a mixed reaction from advertisers,” Shashi Sinha, CEO, IPG Mediabrands, stated. While the industry stands divided, BARC is yet to release ratings of news channels post MIB’s decision.