On 29th April the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) India, a joint industry body formed for measuring television viewership completed first year of operation. A year ago its launch was described by some as a watershed moment for the broadcasting industry as the data was said to be more representative, objective and transparent.
As it celebrates its first anniversary and enters the second year of operations, the organization—comprising broadcasters, advertising agencies and advertisers—is promising new products and services.
Partho Dasgupta, chief executive officer of BARC India, says the focus in the coming year is on expansion of meter homes, digital measurement roll-out and the unveiling of Broadcast India, the new universe estimation study that it had commissioned research firm Nielsen to conduct.
“Apart from this, we are also working on a new offering called VAL (Video Asset Link)-ID. This will help uniform labelling of advertising across digital platforms and linear TV,” he says.
In other words, the measurement of ad spots will now be automated, and therefore more accurate, as opposed to the manual tracking that was the practice at BARC.
BARC and TAM both had formed a joint meter management company called Meterology Data Pvt. Ltd, for on integrating the resources of both the companies. The meters that operated under TAM (the erstwhile audience measurement system put in place by information and insights firm Nielsen and Kantar Media, a WPP company) are being uninstalled and will be redeployed at BARC panel homes. Once the redeployment is complete, data from 34,000 panel homes will begin flowing into BARC India servers.
Currently, BARC has 22,000 installed meters. As per its last universe estimates, there are 153.5 million TV households across urban and rural India, and BARC tracks and measures viewership habits of all these households.
BARC will also unveil the Broadcast India study soon. Nielsen, which did the fieldwork for the study, covered 300,000 households. BARC claims this is the largest such study ever. Currently BARC universe estimates are based on the Indian Readership Survey 2013 data, which is almost three years old. According to Dasgupta, the new study will provide the industry with more recent understanding on count and composition of television households in the country. “This study will also form the base of our next round of panel expansion in television,” he says.
The Broadcast India study will offer a revised estimate of the TV viewing universe and throw light on the changing habits of viewers. With new data at hand, advertisers and broadcasters may have to revise their own business excel sheets.
When it started out, BARC was tracking 277 channels. In the last one year, 460 channels have adopted the watermarking technology. Dasgupta claims this accounts for more than 97% of Indian TV viewership as well as advertising revenue. If you include the language feeds, BARC is actually tracking about 520-plus channels in the country. Experts in the field agree that BARC data has allowed them to plan for town with population less than a lakh and even the rural areas. However, they feel the system is yet to stabilize. Due to frequent changes in the system it is difficult to gauge readership.