What India watches on television has always been the most important question for broadcasters, advertisers and media planners. So when Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) released its first ever television viewership ratings on April 29, everyone waited with bated breath to see what surprises it would spring. But there weren’t many and the status quo remained intact in most genres. The findings are in line with viewership data put out earlier by Tam Media Research, the ratings body whose data is no longer used by broadcasters and advertising agencies. In its opening week, in the Hindi general entertainment genre, Star Plus retained leadership with gross rating points of 490, followed by Colors with 438. Life OK followed with 362 gross rating points and Zee came fourth with 308 gross rating points.
Other highlights of the opening week (April 18-24) data were the following: Zee emerged strong in regional channels such as Telegu and Marathi, Aaj Tak remained the leader in Hindi news and Times Now led in the English news category. While Sun was the dominant leader in the Tamil Nadu market, ETV Kannada is the market leader in the Kannada market.
There have been a few rumblings though. A media buyer from GroupM said on the condition of anonymity that a clutch of broadcasters were not happy with the BARC data, as it more or less endorses what Tam stated earlier. “I don’t really want to get into the politics of it all—the BARC versus Tam debate. But what you will find is that most advertisers are not as hung up on the rankings. Most of them plan as per their strategic requirements,” he said.
Bashab Sarkar, senior vice president—Media, Emami Ltd said, “Currently they are only reporting household data which is just giving us a broad picture but micro level understanding at individual knowledge is essential for spending our ad monies wisely. The ranking of channels seems to be in line with Emami’s current understanding, however, with just one week’s data, it is too early to give our responses on the data quality.” Sarkar added that it would take at least four weeks for a more comprehensive understanding of the data quality. “We believe we should be patient and wait for BARC to emerge to its full potential.”
The study covers only urban areas with a population of 100,000-plus. The data has been collated from 12,000 people meters in homes against the 20,000 promised earlier.
Rohit Gupta, president at Multi Screen Media (MSM) said that there could only be clarity on the ratings, once the individual panel data is out. “Currently, the body has only released household data. We will know the true position only in four weeks time, once the individual data is out. But certainly, it is encouraging that the new ratings system has made a successful debut,” he said.
Partho Dasgupta, chief executive at BARC India says that they’ve got some very good feedback and that the industry is accepting it wholeheartedly.
“BARC India is created by the industry for the industry. At every stage stakeholder representatives have involved themselves on all important decisions – whether on our vendor partners or on methodology,” he said.
For the record, BARC is a joint industry body, formally constituted in 2012 in order to commission a whole new television audience measurement system. It has representation from various stakeholders –the industry apex bodies, the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF), the Indian Society of Advertisers (ISA) and the Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI) MK Anand, managing director and chief executive at Times Network said, “We are happy that the new measurement system is finally in place. We look forward to reaping the benefits of this evolved system to the maximum.”
The measurement system is based on the New Consumer Classification System (NCCS), which is a departure from the earlier SEC (socio economic classification). Mallikarjun Das, chief executive of Starcom MediaVest Group said that one will have to observe how the new classification fares, visa vie the earlier classification. It will not be an apples-to-apples comparison, he said.