By Anjan Mitra
In the early part of the 2000 decade, Indians - still trying to settle down under a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government at New Delhi with AB Vajpayee as the PM - always expected something unusual. And, journalists on the media beat were no exceptions. But it even took such scribes by surprise when many of them received an unmarked envelope. Inside was a list of all homes in which the then TV audience measurement company had installed peoplemeters to collect data on viewing patterns. The hint was clear: peoplemeter homes can be breached and, hence, viewership data could be manipulated.
A small caveat and reference to the context needs to be added here: around that time, Star TV India having sunk in millions of dollars over the past decade was riding a wave of stupendous rise in terms of revenue, reach and viewership --- all on the back of the success of the Amitabh Bachchan-hosted game-show Kaun Banega Crorepati. Other TV channels not only felt the heat, but had been seeing their bottomlines turn scarlet. And nothing they did on the programming front helped them change that colour. Panicking, they settled on attacking the credibility of the edifice that provided agencies and advertiserswith data to negotiate prices on advertising on the channels. A CEO of one of the top four GECs then called indiantelevision.com and told us that he could provide us the peoplemeter household details, if we were interested.
The peoplemeter list incident was reported by media in few places and soon everything was forgotten. It was life as usual in an industry that believed then more in status quo rather than push for fresh changes and transparency.
Cut to 2016. When in the third week of November the barely two-year-old Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC), India’s current TV audience measurement company, in an unprecedented move conveyed to its subscribers that it was suspending for a four-week period the measurement process of three television channels there were ripples in the industry.
The shockwaves, medium size on the Richter scale, if one can use that terminology, however, didn’t go unnoticed or unreported. Shock was more because of the fact that such moves by an industry body are few and far between in India and rarer in the television and entertainment industry, which has been the target of various allegations, starting from slush funding of movies, under-reporting of incomes by film and TV stars, the rampant casting couch and manipulation of data, amongst others.
Why are we getting anecdotal --- and being anecdotal and its criticism is a buzzword these days --- for a year-ender piece on BARC? Simply because it’s one of the highlights of 2016 --- a push, albeit minor, for more transparency, credibility of an organisation and the work it does.
Though some critics would say BARC may have jumped the gun in show-causing the three news channels, it goes on to impress on the stakeholders of BARC, and the TV industry in general, that the status quo is likely to be shaken up and which could be good for the whole industry. That the three news channels pulled up by BARC got interim relief from the courts is another story.
That an organisation like BARC India, a joint venture amongst the Indian Broadcasting Foundation, The Indian Society of Advertisers (ISA) and The Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI), is holding its ground and trying to be real global in terms of best practices, technology used and data is laudable. However, we think its three stakeholders, probably, would do well to come out openly and more strongly in support of such BARC actions.
Apart from such actions aimed at transparency, the year 2016 could be termed a usual one for the barely two-year-old BARC when its rural data opened up various opportunities for all stakeholders, its on-ground education initiatives bringing in more organisations within its fold for data (it’s not commonplace for government organisations to subscribe to private sector-generated data) and its weekly data itself generating excitement within the industry.
But looking forward isn’t it time that BARC and its direct stakeholders start thinking of digital measurement?
It may be argued that consumption of digital media by Indians is just a blip on the viewership radar vs. traditional TV, which still remains to be fully exploited in terms of numbers and reach, but independent digital data is always more credible than those handed out by individual companies.
In Jan 2016, BARC India ushered in the terminology Impressions’000. A year down the line, Impressions’000 has become synonymous with TV viewership data. While the terminology was introduced keeping in view the long term perspective of digital measurement, it is now time to ask if 2017 should be the year when industry adopts Impressions’000 not only as the sole metric for public reporting of data, but also as the single, universal measure for judging channel/programme performance. There is sufficient justification for all sections of industry to reference Impressions’000 to understand trends or make comparisons.
Why we making such suggestions? Firstly, the TV viewership ecosystem is growing. In fact when BARC India unveiled All-India (urban +rural) measurement, the TV universe had doubled. Along with this, there has been a year-on-year growth in the number of TV channels --- not just at an absolute level, but also at the genre level like Hindi GECs, English GECs, and English Movies. A quick visit to Ministry of Information and Broadcasting website will reveal the increase in number of licensed TV channels and those standing in the queue. However, while such additions of new TV channels to the existing universe are welcome from the point of view of consumer choice, these, inevitably, lead to viewership fragmentation too.
With an increase in the denominator of TV universe and fragmentation of viewers, it can be argued that growth in viewership is not captured when the same is represented in percentage terms or Ratings%. In fact, referring to Ratings% may give the mistaken notion of a decline, where if one looks at an absolute number of viewers (as represented by Impressions’000), one sees a healthy growth in viewership. This is also validated by the fact that India has witnessed in 2016 launch of many new channels (as well as addition of HD feeds) even in genres where many claim a “decline” was witnessed when seen from the perspective of Ratings% .
Looking forward, the industry could move to using Impressions rather than Ratings% as the standard of TV viewership. But, as they say, while observers may have views, it’s the professionals - who are actually carrying out their businesses using BARC data - who know the best.
Considering BARC is an audience measurement organistaion, what ratings/impressions should it get for 2016? We feel its thumbs up….but many challenges remain.
Year 2016 offered fresh insight into the viewing habits of rural and urban India
Partho Dasgupta | Mumbai | December 25, 2016
When P V Sindhu picked up her racquet at the Women’s Badminton Singles finals at the Rio Olympics, her every move was followed and cheered by an unprecedented 48 million television viewers in India. It would not be fair to the 21-year-old shuttler from Hyderabad, who won the silver medal, to compare this with Salman Khan’s Sultan premiere, which saw 54 million viewers but the two broke several records in viewership this year. Sindhu had all eyes glued on her, with people neither switching nor getting up through her match. Viewers spent more time on screen for her match than for our star wrestler! Before you think we are into comparing sports and films, let me assure you that this is only one of many amazing trends that emerged in the course of the year.
Sports is numero uno among viewers. Be it Indian sportspeople at Rio who were cheered by huge numbers at home, or the new sporting leagues, (soccer, hockey, badminton and kabbadi), all have found a huge number of fans. An important piece of information that emerged last year was about the Pro-Kabbadi League (PKL); the event was watched by a large number of rural males between 31-50 years. This was possible because the Broadcast Audience Research Council of India (BARC) introduced measurement of rural viewership, offering analysts and advertisers a better understanding about their audience. Cricket, of course, is in a class of its own, though Indian Premier League remains skewed towards urban males in terms of viewership.
The surprises don’t stop with sports. Take the news broadcast sector. ‘Tremors’ are immediately picked up by our measurement system, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the demonetisation move viewership across English news channels saw a 71 % spike. Hindi news channels saw a 45 % spike when compared to the average of four previous Tuesdays! While US elections had dominated TV on November 7, Trump was completely forgotten once demonetisation took over.
News is a ‘must-see’ especially when there is a big event. After the demise of Tamil Nadu CM J Jayalalithaa, viewers in the state clocked an average of seven hours and 12 minutes of TV watching on December 6, a Tuesday. These numbers reiterate the fact that TV watching is still a family event in a country, which is largely a single screen household. Viewership is also affected by natural events such as the Chennai floods in June this year. On June 6 and 7 Chennai received 89.6 mm of rainfall while the monthly average is 55.3 mm. Viewership in Tamil Nadu dropped by 10 % on both days.
We were also struck by the remarkable trends that rural market measurement brought to light. The data corroborated the perception that rural viewers in the South love their films and movie stars more than their counterparts in the north. Movies garnered as much as a 41 % viewership, followed by serials (32 %) and news (7 %) in South-rural. Compare this to North-rural; Naagin and other ‘saas bahu’ programmes emerged more popular (48 % watch these soaps versus 31 % for films). In advertising, personal care, personal hygiene, food and beverages categories rule rural India; they make up for as much as 42 % of the total ads in the region.
Finally, the biggest disruption, in the General Entertainment Channels (GEC) space, was brought about by supernatural fare. The Naagins (1 and 2), Brahmarakshas Jaag Utha Shaitaan, even episodes with a plot around a supernatural event, collectively notched up top ratings. Naagin 2, like the first season last year, helped Colors increase their ratings. This is not to say that people stopped watching their favourite love stories — Yeh Hai Mohabbatein, Kumkum Bhagya, Saath Nibhana Sathiya were in the top five most watched slot.
For films, the Hindi speaking market once again proved that theatrical hits do not always translate into TV hits. Singh is Bling, which did not do well at the box office, premiered at 11.33 million impressions and did much better than some big hits. Of course, Salman starrer Prem Ratan Dhan Payo was top of the charts with a record 25.1 million impressions for the premiere. Marathi film fans turned out to be loyal to the big and small screen, with Sairat and Natsamrat both recording great impressions.
Be it, sports, news, GEC, kids or new rural data, 2016 has had many surprises and shockers in terms of the content that has clicked with viewers. As BARC increases its penetration from 22,000 homes to 55,000, there is bound to be a deluge of data that will throw up even more interesting insights. To more exciting TV times in 2017!
New measures include work-from-home option, maternity and paternity leave policy, short-term flexibility, whistleblower policy, prevention of sexual harassment and rewards
Raushni Bhagia | Mumbai| November 28, 2016
After trying to resolve the vexed issue of audience measurement in the industry, the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) of India recently introduced new HR policies to make its employees comfortable. A couple of new policies and engagement programmes have been welcomed by members of the BARC family.
Partho Dasgupta, CEO, BARC India, said, “BARC India has always believed in empowering its employees and enabling a work environment that is transparent and promotes open communication. In order to bring the same rigour in our employees, like our TV viewership data, we decided to tweak our HR policies. We understand that the decision-making ‘currency’ for people processes is that of building relationships through employee empowerment and in order to build this culture, we have come up with the BARC Employee Engagement Programme (#BEEP).”
The friendly HR policies
The audience measurement body has been operating for over a year now, and within this short span, it has put in place an HR policy that ensures BARC attracts the best talent. These include work-from-home policy, maternity and paternity leave policy, short-term flexibility, whistleblower policy, prevention of sexual harassment and rewards and recognition, among others. Each of these policies aims at not just further increasing the happiness quotient of BARC India employees, but also provide an environment that facilitates growth.
The work-from-home policy is applicable to all permanent full-time employees and consultants. It allows an employee to work from home for five days in a quarter. The time-off policy, be it work from home or short-term flexibility leave, is designed to create more flexibility. “We assume that our employees are adults and that they give 110 per cent effort towards work. It is for this that we don’t feel the need to track their attendance on a one to two-hour tracking system,” commented Dasgupta.
The short-term flexibility leave can be availed by an employee who has completed two years at BARC India, and is keen on pursuing further studies or has any personal or family medical issues. The policy allows the employee to take minimum three months and maximum six months leave for any of the mentioned situations.
BARC India believes in women empowerment and is in sync with the Government of India’s policy of providing a work environment that is women friendly. In keeping with this, BARC India has introduced paid maternity leave for 26 weeks. The new HR policy provides for a month paid paternity leave for male employees.
The company has also introduced a rewards and recognition policy. While at BARC India, the emphasis is on team achievements, it takes great pride in individual achievements. This policy is designed to maximise fun, learning and collaboration.
While talking about the need for these HR policy changes and inclusions, Dasgupta said, “In these pre-operative and operative years, our focus was on getting the new TV viewership measurement system in place for the industry. Also when we started off, we were a small bunch of people working on getting the system up and running. We did have policies, since our inception, like mediclaim to fully cover not just our employees but also their family members from any medical emergency. As we grow, it is important that we provide all the facilities to our employees that are needed to create a happy work environment.”
Dasguta further said, “Also, as we expand, we want to empower our employees to make them feel part of the establishment. Not just this, we want to attract the millennials in our organisation and so these policies help. These new policies are just a way to show that we care. We have some of the best talent in India and abroad working for BARC now. We have to make them comfortable so that they deliver and are happy in BARC.”
Someone has rightly said, “Happiness Inspires Productivity” and a happy employee is what keeps the business going. Being the sole trading currency for the broadcast industry, there is a lot riding on BARC India. This puts a lot of responsibility on the company and also makes it important that those associated with them are a happy bunch and these policies are said to be a step towards that.
The aim of these policies is that BARC India wants to empower its employees and make them feel responsible for the tasks they take. The policies are the first step towards this goal.
BARC India has an enviably low attrition rate of 0.7 per cent against 5-6 per cent in the broadcast industry. The company boasts of a 200-strong employee strength with BARC India and MDL put together.
Promoting gender equality and giving equal base for the women employees to pursue their career goals and ambitions, BARC India has ensured parity too. Dasgupta explained, “We are an equal opportunity employer and so our policies are such that empower all our employees and provide a work environment that is conducive, irrespective of the gender. Having said that, the 26-week maternity leave and additional leaves for screening and other tests for ‘Moms-to-be’ is one such way to show that we care for our women employees. Also, policies that facilitate working from home can be utilised by working mothers in times of need. For ‘moms-to-be’, we have also introduced flexible or reduced work hours with a proper leave schedule.”
16 Sep, 2016 - 09:36 AM IST | By Anjan Mitra
On a recent road trip to Ladakh with friends we stopped at a nondescript roadside ‘dhaba’ (makeshift eatery) near the Himachal Pradesh and J&K border for tea and to stretch sore limbs. As tea was being boiled, stifled giggling from inside the hutment attracted me. While trying to see if my smart-phone was working so I could check-in on FB, I peeped inside. A group of local kids were enjoying a soap opera on television; courtesy DD FreeDish, a free-to-air DTH platform. My mobile phone, in the meanwhile, showed no signs of life with a No-Network message flashing.
This, and many other such examples in India’s hinterland, highlight a fact loud and clear: India may be going digital, but Bharat (as non-urban hinterlands of India is referred to by some sociologists and marketers) still roots for the traditional. Such instances also tell us that in a country as diversified, complex and challenging as India, traditional habits, like TV watching, are there to stay despite technological disruptions like streaming video and smart-phones.
Globally, death of traditional TV viewing has been predicted for past few years. But data and analytics from more mature and developed markets and even some East Asian nations - where digital is a big draw - show that TV as we know it is not going away anytime soon.
A US Department of Labour Survey, released early 2016, states that watching TV was the leisure activity that “occupied the most time (2.8 hours per day), for those aged 15 and over.”
BARB (UK equivalent of BARC India) data shows that average daily video viewing by all individuals is 4hrs 35mins and that TV accounts for 94 per cent of all video advertising time. Over the last decade, despite several “disruptive” technological developments, time spent watching TV has hardly dipped, as was being forecast. More importantly, TV continues to have largest reach of all media: it reaches 71per cent of population in a day, 93per cent in a week, and 98 per cent in a month.
And, these are markets with near total saturation of TV homes, and a highly developed and widespread digital eco-system.
What about India?
Appetite for more TV content is only bound to grow given that only 153 million homes in India have TV out of a total of about 250 million (a penetration of about 60 per cent). Rise in disposable incomes, increasing fragmentation of families and continued challenges of Indian infrastructure are bound to push TV viewing higher.
All-India BARC data for 47 weeks appear to validate that. Average daily TV viewing stands at 3 hours 16 minutes, showing headroom for growth, compared to more mature TV markets that have higher TV penetration rate of 97+ per cent.
India has close to 900 licensed channels and while Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) agrees some of these licensees may not be on air, but scores of applicants are in queue too --- another indicator of growth in appetite for TV.
But, what about the perception that traditional TV viewership is losing out due to growth of digital platforms?
Let’s look at BARC India data for a recent TV event, the Rio Olympics. TV viewership for Rio 2016 grew 2.65 times as compared to London 2012. While 16 million unique viewers watched the broadcast of London Games in India, the corresponding figure for Rio Games is 43 million (using the same viewership base - 1million+ towns). If one looks at the all-India (Urban+Rural) base, Rio 2016 set another high of 203.8 million unique viewers.
This brings us to cricket, India’s fav sports (apart from politics). BARC data shows that a new viewership high was achieved during an India-Pakistan ICC T20 World Cup match in 2016, which generated a whopping 80.5 million impressions across Star Sports Network and DD National. And these numbers came on the back of not just a larger number of people watching TV, but also considerable higher time spent on TV.
When asked about linear TV’s impending death in India owing to digital’s growth, Colors CEO and President of the Advertising Club (of India) Raj Nayak waved away the analysis asserting, “I am ready to stick out my neck on this. People who say that traditional television is dying don't know what they are talking about. TV has been growing and there is still big headroom for its growth in India.”
India may be adopting mobile phones faster than the US or other western countries, and a major percentage of them are smart-phones. Still, challenges for digital players are big and many ranging from costly data, indifferent bandwidth speed and getting the right content mix for a country that has 22 official languages and over 700 dialects.
At Vidnet2016, an OTT conference organised by indiantelevision.com recently, Hotstar chief Ajit Mohan admitted that high cost of data is a major hurdle for expansion of streaming services like Hotstar and others like Voot, dittoTV, BoxTv, Arre, Savvn, Hooq, Viu, SonyLiv, etc.
Data pointing to greater consumption of TV is one side of the picture. Globally, studies and data also indicate that TV remains a highly effective form of advertising.
A study by the Institute of Practitioners of Advertising (UK’s equivalent of India’s AAAI) shows that TV continues to guarantee best commercial outcomes of campaigns for things such as sales, profit, market share, etc. Echoing similar sentiments, Colors’ Nayak added, “Digital advertising does not have the same impact that TV (advertising) has... Even Amazon, Google and other e-commerce companies have to use TV to make an impact.”
US-based eMarketer (started in 1996 to study digital trends and considered one of the most widely cited research providers in the media) admits that despite a drop in TV watching time, in general, it hasn’t stopped marketers from pouring significant amounts of money into television advertising.
Without discounting the strides being made by digital players in India (and they seem to be mushrooming all over like dotcoms during the dotcom boom of the late 1990s), traditional TV’s importance and reach still outstrips that of digital.
Pointing out that digital does offer consumers choices of watching TV (government lingo for video consumption) at different time and in different formats, a senior government official, having worked at MIB, on condition of anonymity admitted that TV is not going away from India. Rather, the size of India will help it retain its pre-eminence as opposed to other media.
GroupM too testifies to TV’s strong presence in India compared to other segments of media like print, OOH and digital. In projections made in January 2016, which are re-visited mid-year to do any course corrections if necessary, the company said television was estimated to grow by 17.6 per cent to touch Rs 27,074 crore (Rs. 2,7,0740 million) this year against Rs 23,022 crore (Rs. 23,02,20 million) last year as far as advertising spends go.
Colors’ Nayak aptly sums up the issue: “There is no doubts that digital will see growth at a phenomenal pace especially with Reliance Jio addressing the bandwidth and speed issues, but digital must be seen as another platform for delivering content and that's it. There will be lot of content consumption on digital platforms, but it will not be at the cost of (traditional) TV viewing.”
Like Nayak, I too am ready to bet my bucks on linear or traditional TV in India. Digital has to travel many more miles in India before it can be a replacement for TV, which is still far off from near-saturation point or even plateauing off.
The session ‘Understanding viewability in today’s digital era’ by BARC India focuses on why it is necessary to have a platform that computes digital viewability
Roshni Nair | Delhi | August 29, 2016
Content viewing is moving to digital and with this shift in consumption habit, it is becoming imperative for marketers and advertisers to understand viewability in today’s digital era. The general assumption is that tracking digital advertising and its effectiveness is easier than doing the same for traditional mediums like print and TV but the session ‘Understanding viewability in today’s digital era’ by BARC India at Zee Melt breaks the myth. It brings to fore the importance of understanding digital viewability.
The speakers at the session, Brian Murphy, VP, Product Management, Integral Ad Science; Paul Goode, SVP, Strategic Partnerships, comScore; Guy Barbier, Business Lead of India, Moat and Partho Dasgupta, CEO, BARC India, talked about everything from the shift to digital to how ineffective clicks really are.
Starting the session, Partho Dasgupta, CEO, BARC India had some grim news to share. Dasgupta started the session by bringing to everyone’s notice how Procter & Gamble, one of the biggest digital ad spenders, were cutting their targeted social media ads due to their ineffectiveness. Similarly, Unilever is planning to reduce their fees to digital agencies. Mondelez has also been delaying payments to digital agencies, seeking more accountability for their online campaigns.
“Advertisers in the West are demanding more stringent norms of measuring viewable impressions and transparency, providing comparison data like television. I came across a recent Shelly Palmer report that says 56% of digital impressions are non-viewable and about half of them, almost 60%, are fraudulent. So, similar to TV, more and more advertisers and agencies are demanding that commercials are served on relevant content and genres, matching their TG’s interest and also that they are targeted, drive awareness and help sales. Thought viewablilty has been growing in importance globally, in India it is still growing. Post television, BARC is moving on to the next journey which is how to measure digital video and at the same time how to measure total video between digital and television. Towards this, we think viewability is a concern and will become a bigger concern moving forward,” he added and emphasised the need to have a right measure of viewability.
Taking the discussion forward and pointing out one of the challenges faced by the industry, Guy Barbier, Business Lead of India, Moat, pointed out how there were no real-time consistent measures for valuing success in the digital space. “Clicks have been around for the last 20 years but it is an ineffective method of measurement. Firstly, nobody clicks on online ads and there is virtually no connection between clicks and sales. The reality and the ultimate challenge is that consumer behaviour is changing and it is rapidly evolving. Time spent on TV, radio, magazines is decreasing year over year and digital and internet consumption is increasing. As we merge into a more digitally connected world, we have some pretty significant challenges that we have to tackle,” he said.
Barbier believes it is not about just getting your ad out. Attention is the key and whether a communication has managed to get the consumer’s attention or not is fundamental and that is what should be measured, he says.
Speaking about viewabilty and where it sits in a cross-media campaign, Paul Goode, SVP, Strategic Partnerships, comScore, emphasised on audience measurement. According to Goode, it is essential to see that the content is reaching humans and not robots. “The human component is critical because we are seeing an increase in issues of fraudulent traffic. 8% of total traffic is fraudulent but the increase is in much more sophisticated terms of fraud, so simple fraud is unlikely to pick it up,” he said. Goode believes verified impression is absolutely fundamental to rule out fraudulent traffic and create greater effectiveness.
Brain Murphy, VP, Product Management, Integral Ad Science, spoke about the global trends on verified impression and how they derive real value from an impression.
TV is watched by the rich and poor, by the daily office-goer as well as farmers, and offers enough choice for a young country.
Partho Dasgupta | 20 August 2016 | Mint
Nothing binds an Indian family together like a television set. Be it our men in blue at the crease, the latest Salman Khan blockbuster or Ekta Kapoor’s newest soap ruling the ratings charts, the Indian family loves to watch sports, films and soaps as one.
Community watching is in our DNA, and this is across urban and rural India. We love laughing, crying and celebrating together. Do you ever wonder, what is the average time people spend watching TV daily?
Across the world, average daily TV viewing is 3 hours 14 minutes. In developed markets such as Europe and the Middle East, the daily TV viewing average is as high as 3 hours 54 minutes.
As for Asia Pacific, at an average of 2 hours 32 minutes, daily viewing dips by 40 minutes. But not so in India. As one of the fastest growing economies in the world, with rising disposable incomes, access to TV increasing and more and more channels coming up every day, India has an average daily viewing time of 3 hours 16 minutes.
Historically, TV has been on an upward trend in India over the years. From the days of only Doordarshan, we are a country of more than 800 channels today. From two channels in 1991 (DD National and DD 2), India grew to 50 channels by 1996 and 130 by 2004. This was around the time private channels emerged. In just five years, the number of channels had increased to 521, reflecting the growing strength of the small screen. This growth was all round: news, regional, music, lifestyle, food, travel, science, wildlife, fashion, films and, of course, English entertainment channels. There has been no looking back since. Today, there are around 826 channels across various genres covering all regions of India.
The journey so far has been very interesting: from the days of Chhaya Geet as our only source of film music on DD to around 45 music channels across Hindi, English and regional music. From waiting for the few quality English programmes such as Invisible Man to 11 English general entertainment channels to choose from, all with shows being aired the same day as in the US.
From one Magic Lamp on DD for kids to a genre that has not only grown to around 17 channels but has huge potential to grow more. Similarly, the regional language growth has been spectacular, with advertising support growing along with eyeballs, be it in Tamil, Bangla, Kannada or Marathi.
All of this indicates that viewership has been on an upward trend, and that is borne out by ratings. The two key components of TV ratings are reach (how many individuals TV reaches) and average time spent (TV viewing time per day). Currently, Indian television reaches an average of 615 million individuals every week. This, out of a total universe of 675 million (people in TV households), means 9 out of 10 people with access to TV are watching it every week. In comparison with the earlier years, urban TV reach has increased from 245 million individuals in 2013 to 300 million by 2016, an increase of 22%. If spliced to just the Hindi speaking urban audience, TV has reached 200 million individuals in 2016.
With increased choice, the time spent watching TV increased from 3 hours 15 minutes in 2013 to 3 hours 30 minutes in 2016 (all-India, urban); and commensurate with that, viewership, too, has increased from 9 billion (viewership in impressions; the actual number is gross impressions calculated at 30-minute intervals) three years ago to 11 billion in 2016, an increase of 22%.
In the Hindi-speaking markets (urban), the time spent watching TV increased from 3 hours 5 minutes in 2013 to 3 hours 20 minutes in 2016 and viewership increased from 6.2 billion in 2013 to 6.8 billion in 2016, an increase of around 10%.
One example that highlights the growing appeal of TV is the Indian Premier League. The popular cricket league reached 374 million people this year. It’s viewership increased 7.5%.
Another is blockbuster movie Prem Ratan Dhan Payo,which was watched by a record 70 million individuals, showing how much people love watching films on TV.
But this not all. There is a definite headroom for growth. Out of the 275 million households in India, only 153 million homes own a TV (that is, just 54% of the population). Urban penetration stands at 83%, while rural is as low as 40%. A simple back-of-the-envelope calculation tells us that even if urban penetration reaches 90% and rural penetration reaches 75% in the next two-to-three years, it will add an additional 65 million households with access to TV, which can translate into an additional 8 billion viewership, an increase of 37% from the current 21.5 billion viewership.
TV is the mass medium of choice for a country like India. It is watched by the rich and poor, by the daily office-goer as well as farmers across rural India. It offers enough choice for a young country, ensuring growth as a medium which binds the family together and remains the first screen of choice.
Patriotism is the new play on television, viewership numbers indicate
Patriotism is defined as an emotional attachment to a nation which an individual recognises as his/her home- land. When do these indi- vidual, emotional waves turn into a tsunami of pride? What are the events that bind a country, across demo- graphics and geographies? This intrigued me for a long time. And then when I heard about this cricket crazy Indian family (sounds familiar?) spread across four continents, seven countries and obviously different time zones that had formed a WhatsApp group just to dis- cuss one India-Pakistan match, I knew it was time for some number crunching.
We at BARC set out to see what drove the eyeballs. What do people watch and what does it tell us about them? Here is what we found binds people together — cin- ema, cricket and national events like the Republic Day Parade. They want a story that makes them shed a tear. They are patriotic, people at home rise up as the Indian tricolor is unfurled atop the Red Fort. And when an India-Pakistan cricket match reaches its last over that will decide victory or defeat, impressions and pulses shoot up simultaneously and rapidly. This year, the sixty-seventh Republic Day parade was a huge hit. Aired across over 40 channels, it gar- nered an average of 15,500 thou- sand impressions! This, despite tele- casting in a non- prime time (9-12 a.m.) band. It is even more unusual given that this was a national holiday and peo- ple usually sleep in or skip town for short breaks. The numbers are massive; com- parable, if not better, than many blockbuster movies airing on TV. So definitely this is an event which uni- fies the country.
Now, take a look at Bollywood. Patriotism in movies can be tricky to pin down though we have taken a few samples that are cross-border storylines which have been commer- cial hits as well. One is Bajrangi Bhaijaan, with Salman Khan, which saw a record breaking rating of 26,581,000 impressions at an all India level. Another, Gadar-Ek Prem Katha, with Sunny Deol, saw the highest rating of 5,236,000 impres- sions, superb per- formance for a movie released 15 years ago.
We all know that when it comes to sports, especially India vs Pakistan matches, the nation’s involve- ment is impossible to measure. It is not just cricket we are talking about; the fanaticism extends to hockey as well. The Sultan Azlan Shah Cup this year, which was the 25th edition of the tournament, the match between India and Pakistan saw a rating of 426,000 impressions, becoming the highest rated hockey match in 2016 so far. Compare this to the India vs Malaysia match (272,000 impressions) or India vs Canada (172,000 impressions). Even the final match between India and Australia saw 180,000 impressions.
Cricket, of course is a no-brainer. And when the schedule says, India vs Pakistan, we get a wholly dif- ferent flavour in the mix. Take the India vs Pakistan match during the Asia Cup on February 27, which gar- nered 61,241,000 impres- sions, a record at that time. Just a month down, the T20 World Cup India vs Pakistan match, garnered 83,410,000 impressions — a new record! Apart from these, there are scores of events, which cause the same swell in pride. An Olympic medal won by an Indian or a UNESCO world heritage tag conferred on one of our architectural wonders. But all else pales when compared to cricket and patriotism. This is the new anthem that binds India together the most. Data does not lie after all.
Vanita Kohli-Khandekar | Apr 22, 2016 12:39 AM IST
Broadcast Audience Research Council or BARC, now the world’s largest television audience measurement service, has completed a year. After its joint venture with TAM, it is now the only ratings body in the Rs 54,200-crore Indian TV sector. Vanita Kohli-Khandekar spoke to BARC Chief Executive Officer Partho Dasgupta on what the year has been like. Edited excerpts.
Where is BARC currently on homes, meters, total audience covered and so on?
BARC measures viewership habits of India’s 153.5 million TV households. Of these, 77.5 mn are in urban India, and 76 mn are in rural India. Currently, 22,000 homes are seeded with BAR-O-Meters. In the second year of operation, we will expand our panel homes by 10,000, as mandated by government guidelines.
What are the big gaps?
India poses a huge challenge for any audience measurement system due to its vastness and heterogeneity of population. Added the fact that India is used to very segmental data, globally unprecedented.
A channel or genre’s viewership could be very low and yet they would do hair-splitting analysis in spite of our advisories on the contrary. This poses a big challenge for our statisticians.
The second is the practice in India of knowing “why” and not only “what” from the data. This is also something that we don’t see in other countries. When we set up BARC India, we did not anticipate the quantum of manpower needed. This impacted our capability to respond quickly to queries from subscribers, who were also coming to terms with the new system. But, we were able to quickly take corrective steps.
How many subscribers does the BARC data have? What proportion of the industry uses the currency?
There are currently over 3000 BARC Media Workstations (BMW) deployed in the industry, running our software, crunching our data and giving insights to our subscribers. In terms of coverage, there are over 460 channels that have adopted our watermarking technology; this accounts for over 97% of Indian TV viewership and adverting revenue. If you include language feeds, we are actually tracking about 523 TV channels. Agencies deciding 90% of advertising revenues are also a part of BARC India system. We are seeing increasing interest for our data from advertisers as well.
The big learnings?
The biggest for us and the industry is that the past can’t predict the future. Content drives ratings. But, along with content changes, viewership is extremely sensitive to various external stimuli like distribution, events/incidents that happen in real time and so on. When we began reporting data, as it was, it did take the sector some time to understand and accept it. When Kapil Sharma is absent on his show or whether Arnab (Goswami) on Newshour, the ratings drop. When there are severe power cuts in Karnataka, the ratings drop and it comes up when the power situation improves. The kids’ genre predictably shows increase in viewership as schools go on vacation and again drops when they restart.
How does the TAM JV help? What stage is it at?
The industry was looking for a single TV viewership measurement body. The JV agreement is in place, and the joint meter management company, Meterology Data Ltd (MDL) has been formed. Uninstalling of TAM Peoplemeters is currently underway, post which they will be re-deployed in BARC India panel homes, as per our panel design. Once re-deployment is complete, data from 30,000 panel home will begin flowing to BARC India servers. They will be fused and ultimately published through our BMW software.
Is what the data shows, on broad trends significantly different from TAM? Why or why not?
The two are not comparable as the technology we use is totally different. Also our coverage (All India urban plus rural) is vastly bigger, and we report data on the basis of the New Consumer Calssification System (NCCS) which is unlike the old Socio-economic Classification (SEC). BARC reports viewership of 658 million individuals as compared to TAM’s 277 million individuals.
The minister for communications, Ravi Shankar Prasad made some remarks about the inadequacy of rating systems, even under BARC, at FICCI-Frames. Comment?
BARC India strictly follows government guidelines on the matter. We have expanded the coverage - with a doubling of sample homes to 20000 within the first year of launch, and inclusion of rural India for the first time ever. We have plans for expanding as per government guidelines too.
We are a joint industry body. The number of our meters are dictated by industry’s appetite for data vis-à-vis capacity to spend on data gathering. We feel that at this stage, our sample size is adequate to meet those twin considerations. However, accuracy, robustness and fidelity of data derived from sample surveys is dependent not just on sample size but also on level of sophistication of statistical and modelling tools deployed.
One of the big issues with TAM was the sample size, allegations of data fixing at ground level and of cherry-picking by broadcasters. How has BARC fared on these fronts?
We have a sensitive tracking mechanism that helps us quickly identify unusual viewer behaviour, backed by a vigilant on-ground team which escalates any such issue. Whenever we see suspicious behaviour, we first quarantine those homes and investigate further. We had recently found out about a few panel homes that had been compromised, and we immediately took them out of the reporting system and declared the same to subscribers.
At the end of the day, however, we are a joint industry body, engaged in measurement of TV viewing and data analytics. If we are to learn from the past and avoid pitfalls, the industry (and we are a part of it) has to come together and ensure steps that are preventive in nature. There is consensus within sector on matters of integrity and I will not be surprised if we slowly move towards self-regulation on this aspect, just like how the BCCC (Broadcasting Content Complaints Council) operates on the content side.
Where is BARC on the issue of niche/speciality channels not getting enough of a sample for robust data to be generated about them?
First of all, globally, such channels are not measured the way we do with all granularity. For example, some of the largest global English news brands use quarterly reports to understand viewership. These are not even metered audiences. At BARC, we spend a lot of time analysing these genres and channels since they are more difficult to measure owing to lower incidence of viewing.
The thing to be recognised is that this is a sample study and not Census. In case of niche channels, which have low viewership, we always advise taking a much larger period to come to any derivative conclusions. When you slice and dice the data for a niche channel, the relative error increases, thus showing volatile numbers which effectively provide no meaningful insights. There are many countries which do not report data for channels below a specific threshold and even if they report, they do not report at a weekly frequency. In India, the issue is multiplicity of channels which accentuates with the habit of analysing granular data which makes no statistical sense.
However, we also recognise needs of niche channels, for instance English news, infotainment, lifestyle and so on. Their viewership base is concentrated in six mega-cities, and among higher NCCS (New Consumer Classification System) strata. To address their specific needs, we launched a monthly bouquet service called Alpha Club in November last year, and it has been received very well. We have also been engaging with them constantly to figure out other solutions.
Do broadcasters react badly if they don't like what the data shows? How do you handle situations like those?
We as a Joint Industry Body listen to our stakeholders. When the data doesn’t show the results that the broadcasters expected, they obviously are upset. But, this was more so in the early days, when they were still understanding our data, which was high on fidelity. Over time, they have understood that we present the data as it is, and any changes only reflect the nature of the TV viewer. Fidelity is good and broadcasters now understand this.
How much of your job is handling the egos of the big broadcasters who are also shareholders in BARC?
(laughs) We all have egos isn’t it? As long as we know where to draw the line its fine.
Where is BARC on digital measurement and how will this be fused with linear TV data?
The goal of our digital measurement initiative is to measure gross and de-duplicated consumer media exposures across platforms, across devices. Regardless of where and how content is consumed, we will be in a position to measure it. We are currently at the request for proposal stage. Vendor evaluation will start this month.
Partho Dasgupta | Mar 13, 2016 09:20 PM IST
Cricket and Cinema rule Indian hearts - that is a statement few will argue with. But there is one difference, a rather big one at that, which is sure to shake up some long entrenched beliefs. Bollywood stands less of a chance against Virat Kohli and his boys, but south Indian stars are more than a match for the men in blue.
Yes, cricket hits a straight sixer out of the stadium when pitted against Bollywood's blockbusters. In fact, even the TV premieres of some big movies have failed to woo eyeballs away from cricket. For instance, Salman Khan's super hit, Prem Ratan Dhan Paayo, led the pack of top five Bollywood premiere shows across Hindi Speaking Markets (BARC, HSM, urban and rural) with an impressive 21.5 million impressions (a time weighted average of the number of people watching TV and the time spent by them). But it was blown away by the second PayTmT20, India vs Sri Lanka match in the same market, which notched up 30.9 million impressions across DD National and the Star Sports network!
However, cine fans in the South support their film stars, come Kohli, Dhoni or Malinga. Love for films in the region straddles age groups and viewers below and above 30 are equally hooked. Therefore Baahubali: the beginning is top of the BARC charts with a record 14.9 million impressions in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. Srimanthudu is not far behind, either, at 14.3 million, whereas the high powered India vs Sri Lanka match generated just three million in the same region. The same goes for Kannada films in Karnataka and Tamil films in Tamil Nadu. From Komban, Jilla, Kanchana2 to Ghilli, all top five Tamil films average between 11 to 12 million impressions!
Does this mean movies work better in the south and cricket in the north? In a vast country like ours, the answer can never be a simple one. BARC data now includes a much larger universe - around 153.5 million TV households, almost equally split between urban (77.5 million) and rural (76 million) India. And given the pace at which digitisation is making inroads into Indian homes, new viewership patterns are emerging almost every week. And to decode these patterns, several factors have to be considered.
For one, age plays a huge part; viewers below 30 do not watch as much cricket as those above 30. Secondly, while both urban and rural India exhibit similar affinities towards cricket, Bollywood premieres hold greater power in urban India (four million impressions for top 20 premieres) than rural (1.9 million).
To be clear, this is not a reflection on the content of the films being premiered. It would erroneous to say even that these movies did not appeal to rural audiences. The difference in viewership patterns could simply be the result of distribution disparity between urban and rural India, which is a very critical factor.
TV premieres of Bollywood movies are normally aired on paid channels. Cricket matches, especially if India plays, are aired on DD National, a Free to Air (FTA) channel. This makes a huge difference to viewers. And credible answers will emerge only when we map the different strands of data with the contextual realities of television watching in India.
By Pradyuman Maheshwari
It’s the day.
December 11, 2015.
The day we had said we will announce The Mediaahperson of the Year!
The last two years have seen the announcement happen coincidentally on the same day as the older and doubtlessly better known Impact Person of the Year award. It was even suggested by some souls that our attempt was to undermine them and because our choice matched theirs’ last year, we thought it’s better to announce it earlier than them. Even though it’s wiser to do it waiting for the entire year to be completed. Perhaps in January of the following year.
So how are we different from other awards?
First, it’s not based on a survey. It’s not based on any industry poll. But it’s based on a study conducted by me through the year.
Second, it’s an A&M industry study. Agreed CEOs are important, but we are looking at CMOs and not CEOs of well-marketed organisations.
Third, we look at performance through the year, and don’t base it on the highs of the last two quarters of a year which tend to influence any voting-based process.
Fourth, we give you a clear reason why we chose the winner, and why we didn’t choose others which may have done some striking work.
And fifth, we are as sincere and honest about the awards as one can get. There were suggestions that we should make it an on-ground event. But then that comes with its own set of issues. Perhaps next year.
So the Mediaahperson of the Year 2015 is an online award. It’s an accolade that’s for the truly well-deserving. And for the True Achievers of 2015 in the Indian Media, Advertising & Marketing arena.
There were many who came into contention.
For instance, Uday Shankar
for Star India continuing with some bold steps in sports and digital. But this has possibly been one Star’s worst years in the last three. Its flagship channel is facing a tough climate on the entertainment front. Life OK is just about going ok-ok. Not taken the path it ought to have. Some other channels have turned laggards. Shining bright, but not brighter than a few others.
for Zee: Stupendous performance by Zee Anmol! Still one of the more profitable media conglomerates. But the flagship channel has needed some attention, despite Kumkum Bhagya
or Sudhanshu Vats
for Colors and/or Viacom18: Yes, but not of the level that would put it ahead of our winner
or R Balki
for Lowe Lintas: I think they came out to be a very strong contender. Have won huge awards starting last year. Also, set up a second agency. But, there were a couple of notches lower than our eventual winner
for GroupM: Over the last two years, Srinivas has transformed the face of the holding company. It’s a lot more visible, in fact often even more than the high profile arms like Mindshare and Maxus. Plus, he has done much in industry groupings.
for Dentsu Aegis: This year saw him getting set for the big league, but it’s 2016 that could be Bhasin’s year. Watch out for him.
Undoubtedly, the most impactful face on news television today. But that he’s been for some years, na?
This list could continue. There are many, many achievers. Some in digital – like the people being Scoop Whoop and In Shorts. Or the Jains of The Times of India for going strong despite the vagaries of the business. Or Google…
So who’s the Mediaahperson of the Year 2015?
We were looking at someone who has made a significant impact in the last year. Has achieved it against several odds. Also, this achievement should have been through the year or if it happened only in one part of the year, then it should stand out amongst the various others.
We have great pride in announcing that the Mediaahperson of the Year Award goes to…
Punit Goenka, Shashi Sinha, Partho Dasgupta and Team BARC
First a confession, I didn’t expect BARC to take off. Let’s face it, BARC happened because the industry failed to advise TAM on an ongoing basis and thereby keeping a check on its activities. All the issues about government regulation on ownership of the agency wouldn’t have happened if the industry had counselled TAM through the last decade-odd.
And then the process of setting up BARC took an endless amount of time.
It almost didn’t happen. There were issues about what the ‘ownership’ of BARC would be. Should the advertising agencies be represented on it? Etc, etc.
The turning point in BARC’s history happened when our three primary recipients – Zee managing director and CEO Punit Goenka was appointed BARC chairman and later Shashi Sinha as Technical Committee chairman and Partho Dasgupta as CEO.
The process of appointing vendors and setting up systems took its time. At first there was the government hounding them about the date for set-up and then the industry was putting the pressure. There were also issues of funding the entire exercise because the monies were big.
There was also the ghost of IRS and the MRUC, where despite being a joint industry body, the new readership study was ridden with controversies.
The anxiety levels for BARC continued till the date of launch – April 29, 2015, when it needed a hurriedly done conference call to finally clear the release.
There have been hiccups like with any industry measurement exercise. In fact, it impacted Punit Goenka the most, as Zee TV showed a slide in Week 1. In fact, credit must go to him for having chosen to steer ahead despite Zee facing the heat.
Things were ironed out in time, and continue to be. Shashi Sinha’s inimitable style of achieving the impossible was put to use several times over. And Partho Dasgupta calculated pragmatism worked.
The next big milestone was the launch of the rural measurement. Done for the first time ever in Indian broadcast history.
Once again there were pressures, from reasonably high sources.
But the collective convincing from Goenka, Sinha and Dasgupta worked.
While the three of them deserve much of the credit, the BARC board and the rest of the team also need to be applauded.
They are very deserving winners of the 2015 Mediaahperson of the Year!
- See more at: http://www.mxmindia.com/2015/12/announcing-the-mediaahperson-of-the-year-2015/#sthash.AWydHbxb.dpuf
If one were asked what was the biggest achievement in the Media & Entertainment sector in 2015, the unanimous response would be the successful take-off of the Broadcast Audience Research Council measurement data. BARC, as the council is called, has broadcasters, advertisers and advertising agencies as its key stakeholders. We spoke with BARC CEO Partho Dasgupta on how he looks back at the launch year…
Would you say that you have achieved all that you set out to achieve, given the fact that it was one of the most challenging endeavours in Indian media, next only to digitisation? It’s also been fairly successful. So how would you describe the journey?
To be honest, I am extremely satisfied. The journey has been tough, very, very tough but I am extremely satisfied, but since you asked whether we have achieved what we set out to do, I think we have, with everything we wanted to, this year. It has been a tough ride, but well worth it.
Setting up an all-new service must have been challenging. What kind of hurdles did you have to overcome?
Many, starting with the fact that our whole construct was different; that we introduced what is called NCCS for the first time, and that we had a very different approach to age groups, which is completely different [from the norm]. The technology was new, even though it has been implemented in two other countries. In India, it was never seen or talked of before.
Besides all this being completely new, perhaps one of your biggest challenges was getting the right talent.
This whole project actually happened a year earlier. It was conceptualised earlier, but it came to fruition in 2015. So that would have been a major hurdle, which set things in motion. Getting the right skill sets, the right people to work for us, was also a very big challenge. And I have been extremely fortunate on that front.
How did the existing ecosystem respond to you?
When we first came out with data, people couldn’t understand [the concept of] fidelity of data because we wouldn’t spoon in the data, and we wouldn’t give it out as it came. And the smallest of changes like a Karnataka power cut or Bengaluru power cut or flood or news or event happening or you immediately get what’s happening. People were not used to such things, but now I think they completely understand what fidelity of data means, and how the new NCCS thing works, how the whole [ecosystem] has changed over the year, and how Census 2011 has changed things too. These were things that required a lot of selling or recalling to the ecosystem, which happened. Thankfully, we have a very large and educated ecosystem, which picks up on things pretty quickly so that [was helpful].
We understand there were some hiccups till the last day of the data release. Is there anything you would like to say to the naysayers?
Things of this nature, this magnitude, would obviously have their hiccups. I mean, it’s wrong to even thin that there would be no hiccups. So ok, they happened, but all’s well that ends well. Things have gone well today.
Since broadcasters had the most to gain or lose, how did they take it?
I think extremely positively. People have welcomed the change, and things that have changed have people learning and changing from it. So while there are a lot of disruptions, there have also been a lot of changes. People have welcomed the changes; I have not seen too much of a negative reaction.
You launched the rural data in October, and this is the first time ever, since television started in 1959. What kind of impact has it had, and do you think it is going to impact ad space and marketing strategies, going forward?
For advertisers, a fairly good amount of money was going into the rural market already, I think this is a big change for them, is what we are hearing from the large advertisers, and they are happy that finally they can make the money and the spends accountable. For broadcasters, this is a first. So they really didn’t know how distribution would turn out, or how content would turn out in the rural areas, and how it might affect the larger viewership numbers. That has come to the fore now, and hence a lot of readjustments are happening. People are changing distribution methods, and some of the larger advertisers have already done so. Obviously people are going with what we have found.
In hindsight, if you had to go to back to the past, would you have changed anything?
Only one thing, because otherwise I think we have done pretty well. I kind of underestimated the number of people we may require for functions in the beginning, but we finally had to source them. I think that would have changed. Otherwise, we have done pretty well.
What are the things that gives the BARC CEO sleepless nights, or do you sleep quite contentedly?
Every day, every week brings new ratings and new market standing. It’s something that even I am getting used to, honestly. I have been on the other side, but now you are publishing for the whole Indian market. Every week things changes for so many people, so many channels that I am getting used to it. I won’t say it gives me sleepless nights, but yes, it does make me anxious
What next for BARC in 2016? Is this the year you believe the TAM integration should happen?
Yes, one of the first things [to look at] is obviously the TAM integration. We have already issued our RFI for digital measurement. So that part would be in 2016. We are also launching another new thing which is going to make the process bigger and more far-reaching across the ecosystem, and we are calling this VAL-ID, Video Asset Linked ID. All ratings that advertisers and agencies need will be kind of finger-printed, which will then make use of an ID for a piece of work across the ecosystem for multiple links. It would help in ratings, it would help in the billing ecosystem, everybody.
Published Date: Dec 28, 2015
The TV ratings measurement system has recently undergone an overhaul. With concepts like rural data and multi-screen measurement poised to change the television landscape, here’s a lowdown
By: Meghna Sharma | November 17, 2015 11:37 AM
The world of TV viewership is like a Rubik’s cube—every new insight revealed leads to yet another puzzle. Who is watching what? What works and what doesn’t? Is an advertiser really betting on the right show/channel to connect with his TG? Where is the maximum potential for return on investment (RoI)? There are hundreds of such questions that one needs to address, while people enjoy their daily dose of entertainment.
With the mushrooming of new channels in the GEC, niche and news spaces, a proliferation in OTT (Over The Top) services, and greater digitisation in the country, the TV viewership measurement system has seen its share of ups and downs. The last couple of years witnessed ratings—the measurement currency—coming under the scanner, leading to the industry getting together to find a solution. Formed by three stakeholders in 2012—Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF), Indian Society of Advertisers (ISA) and Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI)—the smeasurement body Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) India claims to be both robust and transparent.
Partho Dasgupta, CEO, BARC India has this to say. “When I took over as BARC India CEO, the endeavour was to deliver audience estimates with precision and reliability while also adhering to global research standards including statistical samples, measurement technology, collection, processing and reporting.” In order to meet these requirements, the measuring body decided to use technology as its differentiator to give precise and high fidelity ratings. It opted for a multi-vendor model (around 30 vendors), instead of a single vendor to do everything.
BARC India started with rolling out household ratings on April 29, followed by individual ratings and within six months, rural ratings. Today, the inclusion of rural India’s viewership data can give more comprehensive information to broadcasters and advertisers which will help them build stronger insights around what India watches, according to general industry sentiment. BARC’s efforts like the upcoming launch of India’s Universe Estimation study on television ownership and viewing habits are only going to fuel growth in measurement. The study will provide the marketing industry with an in-depth understanding on the count and composition of television households in the country. Recently, BARC and TAM Media Research formed a meter management company, by way of a 51:49 JV. “As the industry wanted one ratings currency, this will help,” says Dasgupta.
Meanwhile TAM, a 50:50 JV between Kantar and Nielsen, continues to give television ratings and will share its peoplemetres with BARC to fasten the process. TAM has extended its expertise to radio and digital media players. In association with IMRB it launched TeleWeb, a guide to measure the combined viewership, reach and frequency of television channels, websites and mobile apps, last month. Digital ad spends on an average have been growing by almost 50% annually, and are soon expected to gain a 10% share of the ad pie.
“Advertisers today are looking at splitting their budgets between TV and digital which was earlier done on a silo basis. Consumption is changing and hence the need for research adapting to these changes,” says LV Krishnan, CEO, TAM Media Research.
A smooth transition?
From a strategic perspective, the shift to BARC addressed a long standing need to equip TV planning in India with the growing complexity in the TV environment. Digitisation, growing viewership of HD, rise of non-linear time-shifted viewing and geo-targeting are but a few of the changes that have transformed the TV planning landscape. It was important to equip planners with robust data based on a wider representation of TV viewership, use measurement techniques on par with the best in the world and align TV planning with the new social classification metric, NCCS (New Consumer Classification System).
However, the transition hasn’t been an easy one. The body had to conduct numerous roadshows and still continues to conduct meetings to get stakeholders to understand the new terminologies and technology.
The ratings dark period, when broadcasters and media agencies were shifting from the old systems to the new ones, allowed them to gauge the changes.
From TVT (Television Viewership in Thousands) to Rat ‘000s (number of individuals in thousands of a target audience who viewed an event, averaged across minutes), the new technology has brought in new terms and methodology.
The ‘universe’ has changed as well with 22,000 barometers installed, and this number is only rising until it reaches 50,000 reporting home panels. The minimum sample size has also been increased to 200, versus the TAM minimum mandate of 50.
Like any new system, it may take time for the transition to be complete. “The data released by BARC India is in phases. For example, household data was released first, followed by individual data. Similarly, urban data was released in the first instance and then the rural data is coming out,” says Mukesh Sharma, additional DG, Doordarshan Kendra Mumbai. Ashish Bhasin, chairman & CEO South Asia, Dentsu Aegis Network, adds, “The biggest change since BARC India has come into play has been the undoubted faith in the currency which is necessary for the industry to grow.”
Sure, the new process prides itself on showcasing the fidelity of the system. But what has truly made everyone stand up and re-look their media plans is the release of rural ratings. One has to remember that there are product categories which make higher margins in rural areas and a sizeable part of media spends go with a rural focus. “Till date there was little accountability of these spends and there was blind targeting. With the introduction of rural data, we have been able to meet this need gap,” says Dasgupta.
Consider this: 56% of rural audiences are youth, which is another audience worth focusing on. Now that these segments are measurable, marketers should tap into this potential and factor rural data in television planning. While sectors like FMCG are already active in Indian villages, it is expected that rural data will assume greater importance in market priority across the industry.
For biscuits and confectionery manufacturer Parle Products, 45-50% of its sales comes from rural India and with ratings showing that more than 50% viewership comes from rural India, the brand is re-looking its plans. “Rural data will help marketers understand which channels they should give weightage to, especially niche channels,” says Pravin Kulkarni, GM, marketing, Parle Products.
With the ‘All India’ data (urban + rural), what has come to the fore is the inclusion of free to air channels in the top 10 Hindi GECs list. This is a big change to both broadcasters and advertisers. Competition in each genre has increased tremendously with time. There is no clear leader in most of the genres as there is a tough fight almost everywhere for the top slot. Rural viewership contributes to around 47% to the total TV viewing.
“By just adding rural reports, there is almost a two and half times jump in the television viewership and obviously this is great news. Advertisers know precisely their money’s actual worth,” says Ritu Dhawan, managing director, India TV.
Gazing through a crystal bowl
Given the challenges in a country as diverse as India, it is doubly tough to deliver a measurement system on par with the best in the world. TAM, has gone ahead and preempted the need for multi-screen measurement, particularly for second and third screens. With a panel of 8,500 in six metros, TeleWeb will map audiences of 15 years and above across various social economic backgrounds. The data from TAM and IMRB’s web audience measurement (WAM) will be merged with TV viewership data to help advertisers in pre-planning TV and digital campaigns.
BARC India too acknowledges the demand for such an all-round measurement system and according to Dasgupta, is working towards launching digital measurements across mobile, tablets and other OTT platforms by 2016.
By Vanita Kohli-Khandekar
July 7th, 2015
It took a long time in the making, but Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC India) finally started releasing data from April. It now rivals Nielsen-Kantar's TAM Media Research. BARC India chief executive officer (CEO) Partho Dasgupta spoke at length with Vanita Kohli-Khandekar on the conflicts, technology, financials, and other challenges of setting up the world's largest television audience measurement service. Edited excerpts
What challenges you faced while creating BARC India?
The challenge has been carrying the various stakeholders, with their varying interests, together. (BARC India is a venture of the Indian Broadcasting Foundation, Indian Society of Advertisers, and Advertising Agencies Association of India). When I was being interviewed for the job (in 2013), I asked Punit (Goenka, Zee CEO and BARC India chairman), whether BARC India was an association of people or companies? He replied if it were an association, they would have hired a secretary. As CEO, I had to figure out everything, starting from funding.
The biggest achievement in these two years has been getting the funding going without any member shelling out cash. We are a Section 8, not-for-profit firm. We can make and use profits but cannot give dividends to shareholders. So, venture capital and private equity were out (Nielsen is largely owned by institutions). So, we sounded out two to three banks and those were happy to be on board. We have managed to raise Rs 180 crore from banks and got shareholders to stand as guarantors. This ensures everyone has an interest in getting the system going and they stand to lose if it fails. There is an additional Rs 100 crore that broadcasters have spent on watermarking technology for being on the BARC India system.
How is BARC India different?
We are a technology-enabled research firm. About 76 per cent of our investment has gone into technology. Globally, joint industry bodies give the mandate to two to four vendors, which usually include Nielsen and Kantar (TAM's parents).
India needed a scalable yet value-for-money rating system, given that our ad-to- gross-domestic-product ratio is very low. These are conflicting imperatives. Then there is the integrity of the system. It is key. This is what led us to 12 processes, 30-plus vendors, all best of breed. There are 51 software applications running across seven locations and more than 1.1 billion viewer records generated every year.
All of this comes together with technology. No one part of the process knows what the other is doing. The whole thing is being done for the first time - so, there is no context. We did the meter in Rs 25,000 each. (TAM meters cost a reported Rs 1.5 lakh each). We want to get it down to Rs 10,000. We have meters in Kashmir, in the northeast. But there are challenges - two of the meters in Bihar were stolen, there have been attempts in Mumbai to bribe people.
What are the checks and balances to protect data integrity?
We have multiple ways of identifying outliers in the data. If you don't watch Hindi GEC, general entertainment channels, (going by your viewing habits, peer, or control group data) and you are seeing a Hindi GEC for four hours at a stretch suddenly, we investigate. It maybe that there was IIFA (International Indian Film Academy) awards on Colors on a Sunday and you watched that, so that is logical. But if there are other reasons not logical, we quarantine that home. Then we investigate, and if there is evidence, we can act against a channel for tampering with data, by not including it in the ratings data for six months. (This hits the channel's ability to get advertising).
The shareholders of BARC India are bodies with different interests. How does one handle that?
There was a lot of friction in the past two years. On watermarking, there was a strong opposition from some large players. At every stage, people have been for or against something. It has meant lots of debate in the boardroom and the techcom meetings. But there were no votes. All decisions were unanimous and everybody stuck to the final decision.
There is a perception in the industry that big broadcasters control BARC India. How true is that?
The Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) has a 60 per cent stake in BARC India. The Indian Society of Advertisers, and Advertising Agencies Association of India have 20 per cent each. If broadcasters are dominating, they would dominate IBF, because it is between them that they need to work. Advertisers are very vocal members on the (BARC India) board.
Have you deployed any fair-use guidelines to stop cherry-picking of data?.
It doesn't work till there are punitive powers. We are debating it, though it is a subject for the IBF. We have built some stuff into the software. If you want to look at Andheri (a suburb in Mumbai), the software won't allow it, because the sample is less than 200. In some genres, we can make the software work differently, so that it will give data only over four weeks. In many countries in the European Union, thematic (niche) genre data are aggregated for four weeks. It is more a question of maturity of the market.
Please outline the BARC India sample?
We should be reporting data for 22,000 homes in two months (12,000 now). This includes 100,000-plus and less than 100,000 towns, and rural homes. By March 2016, we are hoping to be in 30,000 homes. (According to the BARC India website, this figure should go to 50,000 homes in four years).
By Vanita Kohli-Khandekar
May 26, 2015
The e-mailer war between The Times of India and Hindustan Times would be funny, if it wasn't so pathetic. It is funny to see two large, dominant newspapers engage in a juvenile 'you did this, he did this' squabble. It is pathetic because no one - advertisers, industry bodies, other publishers or readers - cares about it. Their indifference is the most damning piece of evidence on how unimportant English print is becoming for advertisers.
For those who came in late - most publishers who are part of the Media Research Users Council (MRUC), which releases readership numbers, have been up in arms over a rehauled readership survey that came out two years ago (see "Does the IRS matter to advertisers?", Business Standard, April 23, 2015.) The whole issue was settled through an audit, revalidation and finally an increase in sample size by the MRUC in April this year, though it is not clear who will pay for it.
However, most publishers are still sulking about losing a place here or there on the annual ranking. Meanwhile, advertisers - after missing the metrics for two years - are moving on to TV, digital and other media. Much of the trouble, says almost everybody inside the system, stems from publishers' ego and some short-term tactical thinking. The last acceptable readership survey had shown stagnation in English print. The downward journey that print media in the rest of the world is going through, had begun in the profitable, growing Indian market. In the absence of current figures, advertisers use historical numbers. By stalling the readership survey, the top publishers can maintain the status quo on rankings.
TV does a little better than print on this front. Most broadcasters are advertising the results and feeling good about a rehauled TV ratings service. This despite the fact that none of the results that the Broadcast Audience Council Research (BARC India) has thrown up are drastically different from the trends that the TAM Media Research service had come out with. Sure, there is a difference in their methodologies. But the bigger difference is the way BARC India has approached users' proclivities. The problem with using TAM's data was cherry-picking by niche genre on a smaller sample. Niche channels in music or English news were always up in arms if (figuratively speaking) one viewer shifted from here to there, because their 'ratings,' plummeted. This despite several advisories from TAM saying that for niche genres broader trends should be looked at.
To overcome this, BARC India has released data in clusters such as Hindi general entertainment, English news channels, Hindi news channels and so on. Times Now is going to town with its ranking. The fact is that English news accounts for 0.1 per cent of the time Indians spent watching television. That Hindi and Telugu news dominates. This distribution in relevant clusters, however, is good for the ego of the broadcasters. As one insider puts it,"BARC India has done a good job of constituency management."
While the contrast between BARC India and MRUC is interesting, it is also a sad commentary on how metrics are viewed by India's top media firms. One look at online media shows how useful they can be - for content, distribution and product design. Any digital content player checks its Google Analytics dashboard obsessively for the number of people coming in, what they are reading or watching, how many minutes and so on. They then keep tinkering design and content to show up well on search and to get more people to read or watch their content. To be fair, several entertainment broadcasters do use metrics to figure out audience flows, show and even channel ideas. But largely, in print and TV, metrics have been reduced to a ranking. It is a fist to beat one's chest with and say 'I am number one or number two.'
On the flip side, the thumb rule in media is that the first two brands get a disproportionately high share of ad revenues. Print and TV ad rates are way over anything that digital gets, anywhere in the world. Does that mean that these two media have perhaps better understood the true use of metrics?
The ‘Think BARC’ seminar put the spotlight on various measurement systems; while the WPP CEO spoke about what kept the group ahead of the curve
Aanchal Kohli | Mumbai | May 25, 2015
Media measurement came under the spotlight at the ‘Think BARC’ session at MELT 2015 on May 22. The seminar, developed by Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) of India, featured global industry leaders presenting key insights into measuring content consumption.
The speakers included Jose Manuel Olivera from MarkData; Bruno Chetaille from Médiamétrie; Erica Boyd from Nielsen Asia Pacific; William McKenna from William McKenna & Associates, Inc.
Speaking on cross media measurement, Bruno Chetaille from Médiamétrie noted that in the digital era, there were more screens – four to six screens on an average – in every household.
He further stated that while television penetration was 95 per cent, computer penetration stood at 82 per cent, while mobile penetration had gone up from zero per cent to 54.5 per cent and tablet penetration had also seen a rise. Adding further, he said, “With TV penetration going up, there are more broadcasting methods that have been coming in, like direct to home, IPTV, satellite TV and cable, hence there has also been an increase in the number of channels. The number of thematic channels in 2004 was 121; 2014 saw 148 channels.”
He pointed out that nowadays consumers spent more and more time on TV and the Internet. He highlighted that on an average a consumer spent 24 minutes to two hours a day on the Internet. He also stated that today content viewing was not specified to only television, but there were new ways of watching and consuming content by individuals in the age group of 15 years and more.
According to Chetaille, few levels of transformation were technology, new scientific methods, the merger of television and Internet, and now, from audience measurement to engagement measurement.
Jose Manuel Olivera of MarkData highlighted how analysing big data was a global vision. He believed that audience and content were driving big on classic media and digital media. William McKenna from William McKenna & Associates, Inc., highlighted the dynamics of today’s cross platform measurement and how audiences were consuming data through various screens.
Giving a view on connected consumers and device usage, Erica Boyd of Nielsen Asia Pacific said, “Today, consumers are seen spending a lot of time online, which is on an average 23.9 hours per week across connected screens. India is one of the fastest growing smartphone markets. Online consumption is increasing day by day, while traditional consumption is also growing at its speed. However, this is also accelerating media fragmentation.”
After the big discussion on the audience measurement system, Sir Martin Sorrell, CEO, WPP, took centrestage where he spoke about wide-ranging issues.
Sorrell said, “What makes our agencies stand ahead of the curve is the talent that we have, and apart from that the key differentiator is the kind of technology that we use to provide solutions to our clients. Also, content that we develop too plays a vital role in terms of differentiating us from others.”
Sharing his views on Big Data, Sorrell said, “We are in the process of evolution and data plays a vital role towards supporting the same.”
On how Indian marketers should react to the evolution of newer technologies, he remarked, “Though our landscape is changing very rapidly, Indian marketers are also seen coping with same as India is a huge potential market. Going forward, I believe that mobile and mobile content will become more and more important.”
Giving his views on the Indian economy, Sorrell said, “Our Indian businesses are rolling year on year and we crossed a substantial revenue mark. We are witnessing double digit growth. India has great advertising talent.” He further said that India had a huge opportunity for business and Indian businesses were growing at a rapid speed. “It is moving three times faster than businesses in the US or the UK,” he concluded.
By Meghna Sharma
March 30, 2015 11:40 pm
Come April, the Indian broadcast and media industry will wake up to a new audience measurement system. And as the Broadcast Audience Research Council India (BARC India), backed by Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF), Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI), and Indian Society of Advertisers (ISA), rolls out its ratings for the industry this month, expect to see a new roll of honour as old timers are toppled from their perches and newbies take their place. For BARC India is nowhere like that of the existing system owned by Television Audience Measurement (TAM), an equal joint venture of WPP's Kantar and Nielsen. The platform agnostic system captures data about TV content consumed through any form of distribution—terrestrial, DTH, analog cable, digital cable and digital.
“Our expectation from BARC India is that the ratings will be free and fair and transparent in approach, have better representation of data collected by increasing the sample size, installing robust technology for accuracy and security of the data collected, and finally have great analytical abilities through adoption of state-of-art statistical tools and technology,” says Rajat Sharma, president, News Broadcasters Association (NBA), and chairman and editor-in-chief of India TV.
The inclusion of rural households, which wasn't the case till now, has caught everyone's fancy. Industry experts believe that with already about 30% of the sample comprising rural households, at an all-India level it will be a game changer as the majority of India still resides in rural areas. Kamal Nandi, business head and EVP, Godrej Appliances, says the data from rural India will be crucial in the coming months. “TV viewing in the villages has changed with the times and it would be a welcome move to include them in the system as well,” he says.
Quite a few broadcasters and advertising agencies have signed up for the new system and have not renewed their contracts with TAM. A few weeks back, IBF and AAAI had sent out mails to its clients to subscribe to BARC India and as the fiscal year ends, the subscriptions with TAM would end automatically. GroupM, IPG, Dentsu Aegis Network are not extending their subscription while Star TV India, Zee Network, Discovery India, Star Sports, India TV and NDTV India are amongst broadcasters who have also sent in their termination letters to TAM India.
While the industry is looking forward to the new system, it is also bracing itself for teething problems. “A shift of this proportion is bound to see a few initial glitches. However, I would limit it to just four to six weeks given that all three industry bodies have been involved in the entire process,” says Ashish Bhasin, chairman & CEO — APAC, Dentsu Aegis Network.
He's not alone. Anita Nayyar, CEO, Havas Media Group India & South Asia, too believes that understanding how the new system works will be essential. “It takes time to adapt to anything new. One will get a clear picture once the ‘soon to be launched' data comes out. As of now, broadcasters and marketers are happy.”
Having said that, she is a little apprehensive about the data as she believes there is no benchmark since the two (TAM and BARC India) cannot be compared and hence, this would pose a problem. TAM has been around for a while and had its share of pros and cons; however, most agree that it must be doing something right to have survived for so long. Nonetheless, they hope that barring the few initial glitches BARC India should be able to give qualitative and reliable data which will be superior to the existing system, given the new tools and technology.
Says Pravin Kulkarni, general manager (marketing) Parle Products, “One has gotten used to TAM and its way of working. So settling in with BARC India will definitely take time. We are ready for the rating dark period and should be able to sustain with the older one.”
BARC India has been conducting several roadshows across cities to share updates with stakeholders. It recently conducted training sessions across four weeks and two cities for a hands-on experience on its user software, i.e., BMW (BARC India Media Workstation). “We have also been visiting broadcasters, agencies and advertisers on invitation for similar training initiatives. All this is being done to ensure a smooth build-up to our commercial launch,” informs Dasgupta. Agrees, MG Parameswaran, “The training has to be on what not to do with the data. Thanks to the cutting-edge technology it's not very complicated.”
By Jagadeesh Krishnamurthy,
March 25, 2015
In an interview, the CEO of BARC India explains that the security of the system was a high priority and the process architecture is such that “the right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing”
As the rollout date nears for the BARC India television audience measurement system, its Chief Executive Officer, Partho Dasgupta, is constantly ensuring that every possible angle is taken care of. With all eyes on the new system following issues with the existing ratings system, he doesn't want to take a chance. Despite his hectic schedule, Dasgupta took time out for a candid chat with BestMediaInfo.com on how the system has shaped up, and what the industry can expect from BARC India in the coming months. Excerpts from the conversation:
How has the last year and a half been for you, as the head of the most-talked about subject in the Indian advertising and media industry?
It was a rollercoaster ride. None of us in this BARC India team have done this before. Apart from one person who came on board a couple of months back in the business development team, none of us has done television audience measurement business before. It is a great thing for us because we don't come with the baggage. We know the logic, and hence we are implementing stuff. We have always looked at new things to do, which is what we have done. This whole tech approach that we have taken instead of a research approach is again because we came from that mindset. It is a great journey, and the last bit is still left.
BARC India had to postpone its rollout dates a couple or more times. What led to these extensions? And, were there any particular apprehensions from the board or the technical committee that led to these extensions?
There was a delay in getting some of the initial research data, which formed the basis of the process. Without that I can't start the sampling design or the field research. That is what led to these delays.
The major concerns of the previous television rating systems were ‘panel data leaking' and ‘corruption of panel'. How are these concerns being addressed in the new BARC India system? How tamper-proof is the new system?
What we are doing is that people can't infiltrate the panel. The security of the system becomes very high. The first big thing in the process is that the right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing. 110 countries in the world typically have a process where they go to a Nielsen or a Kantar. Why did we create this entire complicated process for ourselves? Purely because India cannot do with just 20,000 meters, it has to go to 50,000. And, with their kind of costs, it never would have happened. We first wanted to break cost, and which is what we have done.
One of the biggest complaints for the existing system is that you can very easily break it and use it to your advantage. The whole approach for BARC India is that the tech guys would see the data but they don't know where it is from. The research guys actually know where it is from, but they don't get to see the data at all. Even within the research team, there are different sets of people. Some are inside BARC India, some with the design quality agency, and some at the field level.
There are three sets of household IDs, all interlinked through a random number generation technique which is encrypted. So, the quality design team can say that this is the quality of this household based on which you recruit, but beyond that point will not get the address. The field guys know the addresses, but they don't have access to the entire data at any given point in time. We have given all the field guys an Android-based tablet where we upload addresses only for the ten or twenty households that the respective person has to visit. So, down the pyramid, we are limiting who can get how many numbers of household addresses. The process has been set up in such a way that nobody can get the entire 22,000 households list or even an entire zone's list.
Moreover, all the 600 field professionals have been vigilance checked to understand their socio-economic indicators. We had taken off 109 people from what Hansa had originally proposed. We can cross-check their data at any point in time.
We have put together a software-led validation process. There is a Bengaluru-based company which is helping us with predictive analysis. So, they kind of try and predict all your unpredictable behaviour and look at the merit of it. Simply said, if you are someone watching Star Plus for half an hour, and suddenly you are watching it for four hours every weekend, that would show up as unpredictable behaviour. So, there is AI software which gets better as we use it that is running behind for validating. The moment it figures out that there is an ‘outlier', we have a vigilance team that starts tracking that home. Moreover, with the buffer meters that we are deploying, we will stop pinging data from a particular meter if we have the smallest of suspicion.
The other big thing that we are trying to do is that if a broadcaster is caught tampering with the data, the license agreement stipulates that they will not receive any ratings for six months. That is enough of a deterrent for any broadcaster who depends on advertising monies.
Ultimately, we have fool-proofed it 99%, but because people are involved, that 1 per cent will always be there.
Many broadcasters are keen to know if daily ratings will be made available by BARC India. aMap, which is now defunct, used to do that. What about BARC India?
Why daily? I can ping the data every eight seconds! But the point is that it will be a big disservice to the broadcasters. Seventy per cent of India doesn't get power for more than seven hours a day. What we will get are multiple cells and demographics with zero values. As a result, broadcasters' selling point will not be there anymore. Hence, we have to aggregate data to a certain extent, say, a week in this case. And, I feel, smaller broadcasters should aggregate even more, otherwise they won't get data points even with this sample size.
There were reports in the media about BARC India's alleged conversations with TAM about a potential buyout. Can you throw some light on why you went into such a dialogue?
(Laughs) No comments.
The Teleview offered on BARC India is quite interesting. How can the different kinds of users benefit from it?
Teleview is primarily a broadcasters' tool – whether Narendra Modi's face stops the remote or Lalu Prasad Yadav is the preferred face. Similarly, in a GEC storyline, whether a thappad is the difference or a kiss makes the difference. It is a huge tool which they can use to actually quantifiably understand what works and what doesn't.
The Optimiser tool is a big one for agencies. Typically, they used to buy it outside. Meanwhile, the switchers which can track from which channel have a viewer switched to or which channel they are switching to, is a huge tool for marketers.
What is the status of ad spot monitoring service from BARC India?
We are almost ready with the service. We are planning to roll it out before the audience measurement.
The new NCCS has been a marked change. What has been the feedback from industry professionals on the new classification system?
We have received very strong support from the industry. Companies like HUL and P&G are already using it in some format. People have already welcomed the change.
In terms of coverage, BARC India intends to cover a significant region. How much region has been covered, and how was this last-mile reach achieved?
It is mind-blowingly difficult. We are using 19 depots around the country where the meters go, and people take it by hand to the households. Again, out of the five-odd telecom providers, we had to identify which one works the best in each region. It was a full logistical nightmare. We have faced issues like people getting arrested because they think it is telecom equipment that we are connecting.
Will there be a regulatory mechanism to oversee BARC India's ratings?
We go by TRAI's ministry notifications. We will be independently audited according to TRAI's recommended operations.
The reported anomalies and variance in data from TAM had been a major cause of concern for subscribers. How will that be addressed by the BARC India ratings?
When you view statistically irrelevant samples, there is bound to be huge volatility. With the colour coding of the cells, we are forewarning researchers what kind of data you are looking at. You use the 1000+ data, the relative error results will be lower.
Niche channels got the short end of the stick with the earlier system. What are the steps taken by BARC India to address this?
Thirty per cent of our meters are in the six metros. That itself means that it almost double of the incumbent. We are going very deep in the so called English speaking audiences. What I can assure is that they will get a much richer data than before.
Comparisons between TAM and BARC India data will be inevitable since the former will continue to roll out data. What impact do you foresee from this “quiet comparison”? Will we see ‘corrections' from either of the players?
I don't think we have the ability to do such corrections. When you are increasing the sample size, there can be some people who will not like that. That is bound to happen. What we don't want to happen is what happened with some other measurement systems, where something illogical came up. As long as it is logical and one can explain it, it is fine.
With most broadcasters and media agencies cutting out TAM from March 31, and BARC India likely to roll out towards the end of April, we are likely to see a ‘ratings dark' period of about a month. Could this not have been avoided?
This is a discussion primarily between agencies, broadcasters and advertisers. I don't want to comment on this.
What are the steps undertaken by BARC India to make it economically viable for the industry to subscribe?
The total price paid by the industry to the incumbent today and even to us tomorrow will be the same. How it breaks up will change. Currently, it's all negotiated pricing. What we are trying to do is scientifically arrive at logic for the pricing.
What are the revenues expected to be generated for BARC India in the initial year of operation?
Around Rs 150 crore.
What is the future roadmap for BARC India?
We are looking at measuring local beams of channels like Star and Zee. That's quite significantly on our radar. The second thing that we are looking at is digital. This technology is capable of picking up digital measurement, but we have to enhance it. We have these two on the immediate horizon.
By Indiantelevision.com Team
Monday, October 06, 2014
Mumbai: Industry led TV ratings measurement body BARC India has shed some more light on its operational format.
The biggest question that has been answered is that of reporting frequency. In an official communication, BARC India has said that the frequency of reporting is likely to be weekly except for certain data types for which it might aggregate the data by period, time band or geography.
It also says that since currently the number of households with multiple TV sets is low, it won't be reporting this number separately but will still measure multiple TVs wherever it may be in sample households. At the same time it is aiming at releasing viewership data and adex data simultaneously.
The upcoming ratings agency also claims to be future ready by having the technology that will allow it to report even time shift viewing from the first day.
Addressing the concern about broadcasters switching off watermark, it says that such a step is not in the interest of the broadcaster. ‘But like any technology, such eventualities could happen due to various reasons. To arrest these instances stringent processes with escalation matrix across watermark monitoring agency, broadcaster and BARC India are in place. They will highlight even if a small bit of content is not watermarked,' it says in the communiqué. This will dissuade media agencies from buying the channel, forcing the broadcaster to correct this.
A stringent monitoring process is on the cards. BARC India is looking at appointing a senior police official for heading vigilance. But it says that the data collection format and technology that it uses makes it highly unlikely for tampering.
Watermarking technology can also support capturing cable TV channels and if MSOs want their channels to be measured, they can invest in the embedding technology. However, no MSO biases would be considered for sampling as the panel would be a reflection of what people watch.
For its extensive and advanced technology, it is looking at an ingenuous pricing model that will make affordable data available to the last mile.
By Prachi Srivastava, afaqs!
Thursday, September 04, 2014
Mumbai: afaqs! caught up with Partho Dasgupta, CEO, BARC India, to understand how the new system was developed and the way in which it works.
Touted as the next big thing in the broadcast industry, the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC India) is expected to launch a TV audience measurement currency soon. What could come as a big relief to the industry, will also pose a threat to the existing measurement system, TAM (a JV between AC Nielsen and Kantar Media Research), which might have few takers.
Launched in 2012, BARC India is an industry body in which the IBF (Indian Broadcasting Foundation) has a 60 per cent stake, while the Indian Society of Advertisers (ISA) and Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI) hold 20 per cent each. Besides the Board that is chaired by Punit Goenka, managing director and CEO, Zee Entertainment Enterprises, BARC India has a technical committee and a commercial committee, with representation from the three stakeholders.
With a paid up equity of Rs 5 crore (according to the RoC), BARC India has raised a debt of Rs 100-150 crore from banks. In the new world of BARC India, meters will be called 'barometers' (TAM's meters are called 'peoplemeters'). With an increase in the number of households covered, the new system is expected to give more accurate and credible viewership numbers.
The credibility comes from the watermarking technology. An indelible audio code is inserted - with the channel ID and the time it was played out – as soon as the channel is beamed out to the satellite. The meters in the households decode this info when the channel is tuned in to.
afaqs! caught up with Partho Dasgupta - in the backdrop of the decision to postpone the original roll-out date of October 1 - to understand the making of BARC India. Excerpts:
Some broadcasters say they haven't received any communication from BARC India. Why is that?
It is the BARC India's and the shareholder bodies' responsibility to inform the industry. We keep our shareholders' updated regularly. They sit on our board and are in our technical committee. We meet them to give updates. The ones who are complaining are those with whom we are seeking meetings but they have not been able to make time for it.
We not only give presentations to our board and committees but also to the respective executive committees of ISA, IBF and AAAI. So, the right people are informed. We had a six-city road show in March to tell broadcasters about BARC India and our technology. Two hundred fifty channels have already placed orders for the watermarking embedders, of which half are installed. We have also started a monthly newsletter for all our stakeholders.
The deadline for the roll-out (October 1st) has been pushed further. Comment.
Uday Shankar (Star India CEO) said in one of our meetings: "We are creating this for a generation, not for a few years - so do it right at the right cost, even if it takes a bit of time." I strongly believe that this should not be done in a hurry. The meters are already being sent to the ground. The backend is ready and we will start seeing the data. We want to test the data and validate it before using it commercially. It will take a few more months.
Globally, when there has been a changeover of systems (in our case it's a green field), it has taken three years and that too for a panel size of 5-7,000. At 20,000, BARC India will be the largest TV audience measurement system in the world.
What were the concerns of the different stakeholders of BARC India when BARC India was formed?
The stakeholders were not happy with the existing data. That's why they combined to form BARC India. Even the government played an important role in pushing the whole system to work towards its formation.
The biggest concern of the three was transparency. The issue of low sample size also was worrisome. Thirdly, the investment in technology was not up to the mark. The fact that data was not reliable and that people were not there to explain what was happening got them to react. The industry not being taken into confidence was a strong issue.
How does BARC India's system address those concerns?
Firstly, the sample size we are taking into account is roughly three times that of the present system. They cover 7,000-8,000 households while we will be present in 20,000. Secondly, the current system has 9,000-10,000 meters while we are installing 25,000. Also, we will be covering urban and rural towns while TAM is just urban.
Thirdly, the whole backbone of this system is technology. We are called a research company, but BARC India is a technology-enabled company - 76 per cent of the investment in the first couple of years goes into technology. So, we are putting a huge emphasis on technology.
The fourth is the way we have designed this system for integrity. For example, the data is seen by the people or technology team but they do not know where it is coming from. The design and quality control people know the kind of home it is coming from but don't know the addresses. The people who know the addresses don't know the weights of the homes. Even in the panel agency, no one knows the whole set of addresses, they only know the households at the local level.
The biggest of all is transparency. Starting from where the sample would be to what kind of meters would be drawn to all the other rules we are putting in - everything is being done by the industry.
Once the problems of the existing system became apparent, what were the choices available to you?
We could have jolly well gone with one single vendor who could have done everything, and we would have just published the ratings as the owners of that data. The route we have taken is a tougher and more complicated one. We wanted to make this system much more robust and not be dependent on one or two agencies.
The other big thing was the choice of technology. We had two or three modern choices, apart from the ancient choices, which is there in the current system. Again, we went with the one that would not just be cutting edge today, it would also be what India would need for tomorrow.
Will BARC India be tapping into other screens?
Yes. Digital is the next big thing. We will soon see 4G and the market will push us to start monitoring these devices. The watermarking technology can do that too. The broadcaster would be able to monetise its beam even if the consumer is watching content on any other screen. But we are not releasing this as there is still some work that needs to be done.
By when are you looking at reaching 50,000 households? For a country as diverse as India, is even 50,000 adequate?
As per the government notification, we should be reaching the number in four years, with the addition of 10,000 panel homes every year.
Answering the second part, it's a question of economics. The market has to support more meters and more households being sampled. Now when I say that, it is not just that it has to rise proportionately on a 'x-y curve' (linearly), we have to look at crashing the cost of meters further, so that we can put out more of them.
Can you elaborate on your funding and potential revenue?
To start with, we raised debt finance from banks to set up the system. Ideally, this money should have come from these three bodies but that would have been equity. It was decided to go the debt route to simplify the whole process. Also, the intention over a period of time is to make BARC India self-funded.
Besides, around Rs 100 crore more has been invested by the broadcasters to buy embedders, but that is separate.
Going by the 2013 and 2012 numbers, TAM will probably get subscription revenues of Rs 140-150 crore by March 2015. How much is BARC India expecting?
BARC India is targeting similar kind of revenue or lesser.
Will there be a big outlay if the cost of the barometers goes up further? Who will bear it?
Right now, we have got the meters at a price 'x' but the backend remains 'y' only. We will have to scale that up but it doesn't require too much of an investment. The main cost will be the extra meters that will require more investment. Can these meters be made cheaper? We will have to work on that and are looking at it.
Can you compare the BARC India measurement system to any other large measurement system in the world?
Similar systems exist in the UK, France and South Africa. There is one system for the whole nation and that is controlled by a joint industry body. In terms of scale, nothing comes close. All these countries have 5,000-7,000 meters. In terms of money, it's 4-5 times more, even for a smaller sample size. In terms of technology, France has been using something similar for the past seven years, and the US has moved to it in last one-and-a half years.
BARC India's is a much larger and complex measurement system compared to any other in the world. Its barometer costs just a fifth or sixth of TAM's peoplemeters. The kind of money we are putting for 20,000 households would be a third of what one would spend for 7,000 meters in markets like the UK, France and South Africa.
How many vendors have you partnered with? How will having multiple vendors help?
BARC India has partnered with 26 vendors and the idea is to have control over costs and maintain integrity. The problem of working with one company is that you get 'married' and can't get out. Here, if I don't like one vendor, I can replace him.
In India, our efficiency, the way we operate and the number of hours we put at work is different, apart from the fact that we have much better technology. The people who are working with us are fantastic. There are just three foreign vendors - Civolution (which developed the technology), Mediameterie (which handles the back-end) and Mark Data (for front-end solutions). The rest are Indian vendors like Magic9 Media & Consumer Knowledge (for research), Hansa (for meter installation) or vendors like Intel, who have a presence in India.
Once BARC India sets up its audience measurement system, what are the challenges in the next 3-4 years?
The moment you go to a very large sample size, you apply much superior technology and look at things more systematically from a statistical point of view. There is bound to be a lot of change. For instance, there would be expansion of content consumption on small screens, increased geo-targeting by broadcasters and marketers. I think managing these changes would be a big task.
Which bit has been the toughest so far?
Every day, you have a new problem, whether it is getting the right people, vendor partners, choice of technology, choice of breaking it up in the large process system or carrying everybody along in all the decisions.
How much work is left?
There are four different streams coming together. The first is Playout Monitoring. Prime Focus will be downlinking all channels to capture the schedule (programmes, promos, ads) of all channels, which will be fused with timeslot data to get the final viewership data. Testing of data has started. Second is the embedder installation at the broadcaster level. We are looking at 350 + channels to put these embedders in the first go.
Third is the installation of meters and the setting up of infrastructure. The test meters are already on ground and testing is in progress. Fourth is the sample design and installation. Once we finalise the final sample homes, we will install the meters.
What will be the subscription model? How often will the sample homes of BARC India change?
We still have to decide on the packages for subscription but not all data may be available to everyone. For the first time, we will put the whole rate card on the internet. The software will be the same for all subscribers, but what is enabled could be different. Like the current measurement system, we will also keep a track of how many terminals the software is running on. Twenty five per cent of sample panel homes will be replaced every year.
Any interesting method that you would be adopting apart from the ones mentioned?
There is one on the GUI software, which we are working on. A subscriber can watch 4-5 different channels on one screen. Visually, you can see the ratings change, how people move from one channel to the other, every second. That's the module we want to introduce once ready.
A Note From the Editor - SREEKANT KHANDEKAR
I love the saying attributed to management guru Peter Drucker, "If you can't measure it, you can't improve it." As an industry grows, parameters to track its performance grow along with it. And this is applicable for every business, be it quick service restaurants or manufacturing.
This is especially true for media because clients make advertising decisions based on what the metrics say. Controversy has been omnipresent. As long as I can remember, every readership survey had some newspaper or the other complaining. The same was true for television. Gradually, each medium rallied around a single measurement system. And yet the bickering has grown. Why?
Even 15 years ago media penetration was mostly limited to cities and large towns. Audience or readership measurement through sampling was relatively easy. Since then, media has exploded across regions and languages. Though investment in media research has grown, it hasn't been able to keep pace with media fragmentation.
In the context of the extreme bitterness generated by the recent round of the Indian Readership Survey, the rise of BARC India is reassuring. The idea has been in the works for long but now as the launch date approaches, there is a tremendous sense of anticipation. I recently met a whole bunch of senior executives across TV networks and they were all palpably – even if nervously - excited about what the BARC India 20,000 plus 'barometers' – growing to 50,000 in the next few years - will reveal about audience taste.
BARC India is an example of what an industry can achieve if it comes together – with a government push undoubtedly. The subject of this cover story, Partho Dasgupta, the CEO of BARC India, has the task of making some tough technology choices while simultaneously exercising diplomacy to manage the many stakeholders. Their interests may be similar but by no means are they identical.
If BARC India works the way it is supposed to, I am willing to wager that it will bring a new interest to advertising on television – and maybe, even a new horde of advertisers.
Saturday, August 9, 2014
New Delhi: Starting next week, audience measurement meters will be installed in some 22,000 houses across India to capture the viewership habits of television watchers—part of an exercise to put in place a transparent and reliable television ratings system.
Hansa Research, the market research firm that used to conduct the readership study for the newspaper industry earlier, has been given the task of installing these meters to pull viewership data from Indian television homes.
“In the trial run, we are likely to begin with 100 meters to check out their functioning. The households are being finalized based on the sample design. Our function will be panel recruitment and panel management,” said Ashok Das, managing director of Hansa Research.
Hansa is just one of the partners that the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) INDIA has signed up to take care of the different processes involved in audience measurement.
BARC INDIA, the joint broadcasting industry body set up in 2012, is responsible for designing, commissioning, supervising and owning India’s TV audience measurement system. The Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI), the Indian Broadcasting Foundation and the Indian Society of Advertisers are shareholders in BARC India.
BARC INDIA was formed after broadcasters complained of inaccuracies and anomalies in data provided by India’s only audience measurement agency, TAM Media Research Pvt. Ltd, a joint venture between consumer information and insights firm Nielsen and Kantar Media, owned by WPP Plc., the London-based advertising and publication company. While several channels stopped using TAM numbers, news broadcaster NDTV Ltd challenged the veracity of its viewership data in a New York court to claim damages.
TV ratings are important for broadcasters because they are used by media buyers to determine what channels to advertise on. Television accounts for 44% of ad spending in India, which is projected to touch Rs.18,883 crore in 2014, according to estimates by media agency GroupM.
The exercise is starting amid rumours of snags and delays in the project that was scheduled to take off in October.
“Yes, there have been delays, but this is such a large and complex project that requires immense coordination among vendors,” Das said.
The audience measurement meters will be connected to BARC INDIA servers where the viewership data will be collected and analysed. After a month-long trial, the full-fledged installation of the locally made meters will begin in September, depending on their availability.
“We want to test the meters under all kinds of conditions in different parts of the country and make sure that the data flowing is correct and validated, and that the stakeholders are satisfied before we release it commercially,” explained Partho Dasgupta, chief executive officer of BARC INDIA.
For starters, the company has sealed deals with 26 vendor partners including France’s Mediametrie for meter software; Civolution, a French-Dutch company for watermarking technology; and Netmagic/Insight for IT infrastructure including the data centre, servers and leased lines to pull and store viewership information.
To improve the viewership monitoring processes, the government approved the guidelines and accreditation mechanism for television ratings agencies in India, proposed by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, facilitating the birth of BARC INDIA.
To be sure, accurate audience measurement is critical as the ratings it assigns indicate the popularity of a channel or a programme. These ratings influence the programmes produced for the viewers. So, while incorrect ratings may reflect good numbers for bad or unpopular shows, good or popular content may suffer from inaccurate data.
Among several other things, BARC INDIA promises precision. This, it said, will be made possible by a much larger sample size—20,000 homes in the first phase opposed to TAM’s 9,600 homes. (Hansa said it will install meters in 22,000 homes, but measure 20,000). However, the 20,000 meters of first phase will not be sufficient in the long run. “So we have opted for method where we can scale (to 50,000 meters) without burning up big money,” said Dasgupta.
Besides, these meters will capture and deliver data in real time. That is not all. BARC INDIA claims its data will be credible owing to the Chinese walls between different operations, leaving little room for leakages and tampering. The processes are designed in such a way that the left hand doesn’t know what right hand is doing, Dasgupta claimed. “Hence, someone who knows the homes (and very few will know very few homes) doesn’t have access to data—and someone who sees the data doesn’t know which homes it’s coming from. It’s all coded with locked algorithms. So effectively it’s not just different—it’s a new way to do things,” he added.
Since BARC INDIA will cover more homes, the data derived is expected to be deeper, wider and richer. According to M.G. Parameswaran, adviser at Draftfcb Ulka and the newly-elected president of AAAI, media agencies will be able to analyse data in greater depth.
“Currently, the sample size is small and we cannot do certain cuts. For instance, there is not enough data on socio-economic classification. So we cannot do a cut on English news,” said Parameswaran who, as president of AAAI, will soon be inducted onto the BARC INDIA board.
Aseem Vohra, partner at consulting firm Grant Thornton India Llp, said, “Broadcasters’ single-point agenda is to maximize ad revenue while advertisers’ main aim is to minimize advertising spend. This will be possible as the sample size goes up and error margins decline.”
According to the Ficci-KPMG media report of 2013, there are 154 million cable and satellite TV homes in India. In 2017, this number is expected to touch 191 million.
Vohra said the evolution of BARC INDIA will also take care of the perceived conflict of interest that was an issue with TAM. The new government norms mandate that no individual entity can either directly or indirectly have 10% or more of paid-up equity in both rating agency and a broadcaster, advertiser or advertising agency.
Consequently, TAM’s future hangs in the balance, as it is 50% owned by Kantar which, in turn, is part of WPP. BARC INDIA, on the other hand, is jointly owned by industry associations of advertisers, advertising agencies and broadcasters.
BARC INDIA also dismissed rumours that it lacked finances to see the project through. Funding has been raised through bank debt, duly securitized by guarantees from all three shareholder constituents.
“Financing was a big challenge for a company like ours, but we have crossed that hill. The three constituents are chipping in proportionate to the shareholding,” said Dasgupta, without divulging either the project cost or the shareholding percentage.
Broadcasters are investing over Rs.100 crore in embedding-related equipment. This is over and above their expenditure on the project, he claimed.
Yet, the progress is slow and the project is poorly managed, critics claim. The project launch seems to have moved from October to the end of the year. Eric Salama, CEO, Kantar Media, the part-owner of TAM, said there was no way BARC INDIA would be operational on 1 October when it said it would.
“In fact, I doubt very much if they will be up and running in the next six-nine months. It’s a much harder task than people think,” he said. On TAM’s future plan, he said “the ambition is to continue to be part of the industry, going forward”.
Some broadcasters are also disillusioned with the communication or lack of it, from BARC INDIA. A news channel head, who declined to be named, said there was little information available on the developments of the ratings system: “We do not know the product, benefits or the road map for the new system,” he said. “Besides, we are being pushed to buy a particular software from a particular firm even when it is available at a lower cost from others.”
The channels must buy this software if they want their signals to be read by the meters being measured in cable homes.
But sceptics do not faze Dasgupta. “When you are out to develop a greenfield system, which is arguably the biggest global audience measurement system in the world, there are bound to be challenges. So, while we are not ready yet, we’re doing all that is required to ensure a transparent, reliable audience measurement system,” he said.
By exchange4media News Service
Friday, August 8, 2014
The Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) INDIA is in hectic preparations to meet its October 2014 launch date deadline. However, in an exclusive interview with exchange4media, Partho Dasgupta ?Chief Executive Officer, BARC India indicated a possible delay of a couple of months in commencement of BARC INDIA operations.
As has been reported earlier, BARC India has been wholeheartedly welcomed by the TV broadcast industry in light of the dispute between TAM Media and some broadcasters over the rating figures.
Following Dasgupta’s comment about a possible delay in BARC India's commencement, exchange4media spoke to a cross-section of broadcasters to gauge their reactions and also to know whether they see any negative fallout of this delay.
Most broadcasters are not unduly worried about the delay as they feel that TAM is working as an opportunity cost for them at the moment. Moreover, the broadcasters prefer to wait for BARC India as long as the service delivers on its promise of a transparent and reliable ratings system.
Sharing his thoughts over the delay, Ashok Venkatramani, CEO, MCCS said, “We all are waiting for communication from BARC INDIA. So far, we have not received any communication from BARC INDIA. Whatever we are getting to know, it is from the press. For instance, I have read that BARC INDIA has started seeding boxes, but there has been no formal or informal communication from BARC India.”
According to MK Anand, CEO and MD, Times Television Network, BARC INDIA is a complicated exercise and there is a lot at stake. “It is better that they launch with a stable and good service even if it takes a little extra time,” he commented.
Voicing her opinion, Anurradha Prasad, Chairperson, BAG Network said, “The industry is eagerly waiting for BARC INDIA to commence its operations, going by the promise of a good measurement system for the industry. Though none of us are aware of the launch deadline, we are being kept informed about the work in progress on a regular basis.”
Commenting on the likely delay in commencement of BARC INDIA, RK Arora, CEO, ITV Network remarked, “There will be no significant impact on the industry as we are already subscribed to TAM and the entire industry is accepting it. With TAM currently handling the entire ratings system, we are willing to wait for BARC India to commence its operation.”
Monica Tata, MD, HBO India too felt that a short delay will not matter much and said, “If the delay is till December, it will not make any difference. It all depends on what the level of delay is; until and unless we know the exact date of launch, it will all be subjective.”
She further said, “We have to work with whatever that is out there till the time BARC INDIA is ready to deliver.”
By exchange4media News Service Thursday, August 7, 2014
Whilst the much anticipated roll–out of BARC INDIA is likely to be extended by a couple of months, BARC INDIA has started seeding some boxes in homes across India which will transmit back the data to its servers which will be monitored and checked. BARC INDIA is also testing the meters and homologating them for Indian conditions.
“Almost 75%+ of expenses are being incurred on technology, which is the heart of the entire system,” shared Partho Dasgupta, CEO, BARC INDIA.
More than 250 channels have already ordered for these embedders and about a half of these are already installed. BARC INDIA is testing the meters and homologating them for Indian conditions.
Dasgupta added, “We are starting to seed boxes to test our systems. This will continue for some time, since we want to test the meters under all kinds of Indian conditions in different parts of the country. We want to make sure that the data flowing is right in all respects, validated and stakeholders are satisfied before releasing them commercially.”
BARC INDIA is going to start with 20, 000 people meters initially once it’s rolled out, and then plans to gradually scale up the number by 10,000 .