• BARC forms global alliance for video views measurement-Economic Times

  • I-Com Global Summit: Analysing India's 130 million hindi news viewers-Campaign India

  • 2018: A year when Regionals, Sports & News entertained viewers - Exchange4Media

  • New Viewership Habits Open up Opportunities for Content Creators, Brands - Business Standard

  • Why Television has an Edge over Digital Advertising Platforms during Festive Season - MINT

  • What Broadcast India 2018 tells us - Business Standard

  • Small Towns, Rural Areas Lead Growth in Number of TV Homes at 7.5% - Hindu Business Line

  • What Netflix? Indians are still Glued to the Idiot Box - Quartz India

  • Television Viewership in India up by 12% since 2016: BARC study - MINT

  • Television Remains the Choice of the Masses even in Digital Times - Economic Times

  • With FIFA World Cup, football viewership gets a boost in India - Business Standard

  • You see what you get when it comes to TV advertising- Economic Times

  • Year End Specials: The small screen grew bigger in 2017- Business Standard

  • Virat Kohli rules Indian TV screens too

  • Riding on festive cheer- MINT

  • Many moods of the nation are reflected in television viewership- Business Standard

  • TV TRENDS - Breaking News Women Watch- Economic Times

  • Why digital measurement is the need of the hour- MINT

  • Industry understands that various factors influence viewership patterns including season and weather: Partho Dasgupta, CEO, BARC India- Exchange4Media

  • Industry needs to understand on-ground changes in distribution, not question flux in data, says Partho Dasgupta-

  • Two years of BARC India-MXM India

  • How Indian TV universe expanded- The Economic Times

  • Dark as day- ET BrandEquity

  • The rise of rural TV viewers- MINT

  • BARC India gets thumbs up for 2016...but challenges remain-

  • Mind the Data- Business Standard

  • BARC India‚Äôs New HR Policies Aim At Making The Office A Happy Place

  • More and More Eyeballs Reach TV-

  • Zee Melt 2016: Experts debate effectiveness of ads on digital

  • Why Television Matters

  • A binding anthem- Business Standard

  • BARC measures habits of 153.5 mn TV households but it's not a Census: Partho Dasgupta

  • Two C's that rule Indian television

  • Partho Dasgupta & Team BARC India win MxmIndia Mediaahperson of the Year

  • 2015 Achiever #1: BARC

  • What India Watches

  • BARC's biggest achievement was getting the funding going: Partho Dasgupta

  • The tragedy of metrics

  • MELT 2015: Think BARC & Sir Martin Sorrell dominate conversations on Day 2

  • Tectonic Shifts

  • People can't infiltrate the BARC India panel, says Partho Dasgupta

  • BARC India likely to roll out weekly data

  • Man in the red-hot seat - Partho Dasgupta, CEO, BARC India

  • In trial run, BARC India to install meters to gauge TV viewing

  • A little delay doesn't matter as long as BARC India delivers

  • BARC India starts seeding data boxes for trial

India’s television viewership measurement body has formed an alliance with its counterparts in France, Canada and Japan to chart the future of video audience measurement, a development that comes at a time when technological advances are disrupting viewership habits across the globe and television is facing serious competition from digital video services. 

The Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) India has teamed up with Médiamétrie (France), Numeris (Canada) and Video Research (Japan) to form the Global Alliance for the Measurement of Media Audiences (GAMMA), which will work on audience measurement initiatives including the development of common technical standards and operational processes. 

The four founding nations together account for a population of more than 1.5 billion and advertising spend of $78 billion, about 15% of the worldwide total. 

“Audience measurement across the world needs to constantly innovate to keep pace with emerging trends,” said BARC India CEO Partho Dasgupta. “We at BARC India have always been open to learning from our global counterparts, and this international alliance offers a tremendous platform to not only learn from our peers but also contribute.” 

GAMMA has appointed Brad Bedford, a veteran audience measurement executive, as its global managing director. 

“There is an ever-increasing demand for cross device measurement internationally and the partnering of these audience measurement firms seeks to facilitate continued movement in that direction,” said Bedford. “I am honoured to represent this effort on a global scale. We are confident GAMMA will be a source of great knowledge sharing and continued learning for the industry.” 

The need for a global alliance was felt owing to rapid advancements in technology that are re-shaping both distribution and consumption of content. These changes have a global impact given the nature of digital media. 

GAMMA aims to leverage the collective knowledge and sector expertise of each member to advance audience measurement solutions worldwide. Through close cooperation, the participants intend to identify strategies and solutions that are more transparent and standardised. 

Pekham Basu, VP-strategy, BARC India, presented its case titled ‘Bio news’ that won the Data Creativity Awards category at the I-Com Global Summit 2019.

Giving a background of the television viewing scenario in India, Basu said, "India is the second largest TV viewers market in the world. Among the homes that have TVs, 98 per cent are single TV households. 130 million people watch hindi news channels every day. From the business perspective the news industry focusses on viewership. This is because majority of the news channels are free-to-air and 90 per cent of their revenue comes from advertising. There is a race among news channels to be number one every week, so much so that one channel had their number one position as breaking news on that channel."  

She then explained the need of Bio News. "BARC was providing credible data. But then people were asking us where were they going wrong. So we created a tool – for insights customised for news editors. We created a cross functional team which gave agility and introduced new metrics for scientific bench marking. Alongside videos, we kept viewership graphs to ensure how viewership was changing. We made it available on laptops and mobiles. Complex analysis that took hours was given in ten minutes," said Basu.  

She added, "A news broadcaster can get ROI for every story. We can also give out information like which channel broke the news first and which channel is on a commercial break. You can also get ROI for each anchor."  

Basu then shared a couple of examples of Bio News analysed dips and growth of viewership numbers.  

"One channel's viewership numbers dropped. When we analysed it, it was because it gave lesser coverage to the former chief minister of Tamil Nadu, Jayalalitha."  

"During the coverage about Asaram Bapu's rape case verdict, all the channels were showing similar coverage, but one stood out. The reason for this was that the channel was the only one which gave the story of the guru’s ‘significant other’ (partner)."  

CEO, BARC India says the year 2018 also saw Hindi GEC and Movies continuing to garner lion’s share of viewership and asserts that their popularity is only rising

02 January, 2019

In this fast-paced world, year-end becomes that pit stop when we all take a pause and reflect on the hits and misses of the year gone by and the media industry is no exception.

In the last three years of measuring ‘What India Watches’ I have come across several trends which have managed to successfully captivate audiences’ interest. What is interesting though is, every year has its own unique success story. And this year for me is a year which saw the rise of regionals, innovation in news and interest in sports other than cricket. The reason these genres have caught my attention also is because I feel it is these that will set the tone for television viewing in the New Year.

The power of any genre reflects in the viewership it garners and this year has seen News, Sports and Regionals take centre stage. A deep dive in all the regionals (which I will do in this column) will show how each language genre has managed to gain viewers and this interest can be gauged from the launch of new channels as well as telecast of events in language feeds.

Marathi for instance grew 26 per cent over 2017 driven by Marathi GEC, while Bangla grew 13 per cent dominated by Movies (up 20 per cent) and GEC (up 12 per cent). Interestingly, even Bangla language HD Channels saw a 30 per cent growth in the year. Bhojpuri, which grew by 38 per cent was also the growth driver for the entire HSM Regional space. What’s interesting however, is the popularity of News channels in Odisha and Assam market. Odiya for instance grew on the back of News which recorded a 30 per cent spike in viewership while in Assam, News grew by 11 per cent.     

Moving to South, 31 per cent of total TV viewers contribute to 37 per cent of Total TV viewership. The region also has high time spent on TV (4 hour 20 minutes) and a high weekly tune-in of 94.8 per cent. Looking at state-wise viewership, Karnataka has seen a 20 per cent jump, followed by Tamil Nadu, Kerala and AP/ Telangana which grew by 30 per cent, 18 per cent and 21 per cent, respectively. This growth in viewership has also led to 26 new channel launches in the South market. With HD viewership in South recording a 4X growth, the love for language also reflects in the viewership of premium content.

In sports, we saw that while cricket still rules the genre, this was the year when soccer gained popularity amongst Indian viewers, with 50 per cent more viewership compared to last year. The increasing importance of soccer can also be seen from the fact that a record 111 million viewers tuned in to watch the FIFA World Cup held in France. In fact, with 16 million Impressions recorded for FIFA World Cup Final on TV, India ranked fourth in comparison with other football playing nations.

One of the catalysts, according to me, for this increasing preference of sports viewership in India is its availability in regional languages. Be it Kabaddi, Football or Cricket, broadcasters have understood the need to cater to the language preference of audiences. We have seen a huge uptake in viewership of Indian Super League and Pro Kabaddi League coming from their availability in regional languages. In fact, FIFA World Cup 2018 too was aired in Bangla and Malayalam, thus catering to the huge football fandom in these states. Not just that, 23 per cent of viewership for Indian Premiere League came from regional language channels.

2018 has been a year of news and with 2019 General Elections, a lot of focus will be on the genre even in the coming year. Three major assembly Election Results showed increase in News viewership. English News saw the biggest jump during Karnataka elections whereas Hindi News saw a huge spike during the recent Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Telangana and Mizoram elections.

As a build-up to 2019 General Elections, all major news channels have aired multiple debates, special shows and polls to understand the mood of the nation. We will see a spike in this content in 2019.


While 2018 for me has been a year of regionals, sports and news, Hindi GEC and Movies continue to garner lion’s share of viewership and its popularity is only rising. 

A lot of new shows were launched on Hindi GECs this year. The genre that registered a growth of 15 per cent over 2017 has experimented with the content which has also resonated with the viewers. While in 2017, the duration of Maha episodes, Maha sangams and special episodes on Weekdays primetime was one hour, in 2018, the duration has gone up to more than two hours. We have also seen a slew of show launches in the supernatural genre.  

In the Hindi Movie space, 3098 unique titles were aired and ‘Dhadak’ with 19 million impressions was the highest rated World Television Premiere of the year. Not just this, three titles: ‘Dhadak’, ‘Golmaal Again’ and ‘Tiger Zinda Hai’ that were premiered on TV in 2018, made it to the top 10 World Television Premiere list since BARC India started reporting All India viewership in October 2015. The genre also saw a spike of 18 per cent in viewership compared to 2017.

2018 has set the tone for the coming year and we will see a lot of action in the TV space, especially in the news, sports and regional genre. In order to attract viewers, broadcasters will need to experiment and innovate with the content. Those who understand the pulse of the nation to meet the content need will stand to benefit. On that note, wishing all the readers a Happy New Year!

TV had a good year in 2018. Even at 66% penetration, it accounts for the highest (42%) share of the entire marketing and entertainment ad spends

by Partho Dasgupta
December 28, 2018

The country is gearing for 2019 and while citizens are busy making their wish list for the next general elections, the television (TV) industry and especially the news channels are preparing for what will be the defining moment of 2019. But, before we do that, it is important to assess the year gone by.

We measure the TV viewership habits of 836 million TV owning Indians and that helps immensely in getting the pulse of the nation, through what people want to watch. The one big development that I noticed and which, for me, defines 2018 is the changing consumption habits of Indians.

TV had a good year in 2018. Even at 66 per cent penetration, it accounts for the highest (42 per cent) share of the entire M&E (marketing and entertainment) ad spends. The fact that states such as Bihar/Jharkhand and North East/Sikkim have recorded a 25 per cent and 23 per cent increase in the number of TV households respectively, is proof of the growing interest in the medium. The number of channels viewed per week has also seen a remarkable jump; from 24 in pre-digitisation period to 35 in 2018.

What is interesting is the increase in the number of High Definition (HD) channels, from 78 to 92 in 2018. This indicates the growing inclination among viewers for better quality viewing. This changing preference has also been captured in BARC Indiadata which has recorded a 57 per cent growth in HD viewership in 2018.

Through the year, we heard many talk about the increasing time spent on digital. But, the fact that even today, 93 per cent of all video consumption happens on TV, tells a different story. What the growing influence of digital has done however, is to encourage players in the TV space to serve audiences in all age brackets. This reflects in the high viewership of youth (15-30 year olds) who with 30 per cent share remain the highest contributor to TV viewership.

The growth that genres like Hindi GECs (up 15 per cent) and Hindi Movies (up 18 per cent) see year-on-year shows the love that Indian viewers have for drama. Also, the fact that these two remain the top two most viewed genres on TV talks about the core of Indian TV viewing. And while, many may feel that the audiences for these genres are in rural India, it is consumed equally by urban audiences as well.

New viewership habits open up opportunities for content creators, brands

This year has marked the growing preference for content in regional languages. This can be explained by not just the increased viewership, but also new channel launches. While South regionals saw a 7 per cent spike in viewership, led by Kannada which grew by 15 per cent; HSM (Hindi speaking market) regionals have grown by 20 per cent over 2017. The growth drivers in these markets have been Bhojpuri (38 per cent), Oriya (36 per cent) and Assamese (31 per cent) languages. Marathi and Bangla too have grown by 26 per cent and 13 per cent respectively.

The fact that news, especially English news (16 per cent growth over 2017) and sports channels (up by 21 per cent) have gained momentum too is a sign of changing consumption habits of Indian TV viewers. My gut tells me that regionals, especially the news and sports genres, will innovate the most in the coming year to cater to the needs of viewers.

Interestingly, the all-time high viewership of 34 billion impressions on TV, which is equal to almost one trillion man-minutes spent watching TV, was driven by events that were covered heavily by news channels. It was the week when Indiacelebrated its seventy second Independence Dayand also bid adieu to one of its iconic political leaders, Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

Data shows that Indians continue watching events of national importance on news channels. This could be the Republic Daycelebrations, the Independence Dayparade or Karnatakaassembly elections.

In sports, while cricket continues to grab lion's share of viewership, wrestling and football are also getting traction with 12 per cent and 7 per cent share respectively in 2018. In fact, many have started believing that it is Live Sports on TV that is one of the drivers for subscription.

The increasing importance of soccer can be seen from the fact that a record 111 million viewers tuned in to watch the FIFA World Cupheld in France. In fact, with 16 million impressions recorded for FIFA World CupFinal on TV, Indiaranked fourth in comparison with other football playing nations.

The year opened up new opportunities for content creators and platform owners and in 2019, those who keep innovation and viewer preference at the centre stand to benefit.


by Partho Dasgupta

Homes are gearing up for the festive season and so are brands, which are optimistic about their sales uplift. Lately, I have been witnessing an advertising blitzkrieg by brands across all platforms—TV, digital, print, radio and out-of-home or OOH advertising. However, television, with a daily tune-in of 613 million individuals, offers the biggest platform to advertisers to get maximum reach. And, if you ask me, while the key to better sales is in promotion, it needs to be on the right platform, and one which can be accurately measured. It comes as no surprise that 42% of annual ad-spend in India ends up on TV.

Holidays and special programming during festivals, such as Dussehra and Diwali, lead to increased viewership on TV, making it the right time for these advertisers to catch the attention of their target audience. Some recent reports on brand push during festive season got me digging into our three years of advertising data during the festive period.

What is also interesting is to see how categories wait for this festive season to promote their products. Data shows that Dussehra and Diwali weeks see 17% more ads on TV, compared to the weekly average through the year. Not just this, categories, such as TV sets, camera and non-stick cookware, air 60%, 87% and 53%, respectively, of their total ad spots during this season. Other categories such as housing loans, paints and real estate, too, concentrate on this season for better brand push.

The appetite for TV in India continues to be on the rise and this has led to new channel launches over the years. What this has done is provided advertisers with an opportunity to be available on channels which cater to specific preferences of the audience, thus increasing their opportunity to see.

Many in the industry have been talking about growth of digital and attractiveness of the medium for advertising. While there is growth in the medium, the power of TV is in the high level of granularity of viewership data. Advertisers can get to know exactly how many people their campaigns reached, as well as demography, geography and socio-economic profile of the audience they reached. This is gold-dust for planners and marketers. An industry veteran, in fact, recently said that TV, and its effective and granular measurement, helps brands plan better towards gaining a better ROI on their ad-spends.

To break a few myths, advertising on TV has been growing year-on-year. In fact, we see an upward trend in advertising spots in the weeks leading up to the festive season, and a sustained spike during festive seasons, year-on-year. Compared to Dussehra/Diwali weeks in 2015, advertising saw 21% growth in 2017. This year, the climb in advertising on TV started from July. From July to September, ad insertions on TV have already recorded 12% growth and our sense is that it will only go up further closer to the festive season. The fact that close to 26 new categories hopped on to TV from 2015 to 2017 is clearly an indicator of the power that the medium holds.

So what are the categories that up their presence on TV during this festive season? For the past two years, it has been cell phones, two-wheelers, online shopping sites and chocolates.

While in 2015, during Dussehra and Diwali, online shopping players upped their advertising by 49%, in 2016 it grew by 86%, and, in 2018, so far, we have seen growth of 40%. Two-wheeler advertising, meanwhile, increased by 113% in 2015 and 107% in 2016. In 2017, cell phones upped advertising by 107%, while retail jewellers too hopped on to the TV bandwagon, increasing their advertising by 83% during festive season.

Viewers in North and South India behave differently during festivals such as Dussehra and Diwali. This reflects in advertising on channels catering to these markets. In the north, for instance, many homes buy a new vehicle. So, we see a rise in advertising of two-wheelers on Hindi language channels. The category pumped in 138% and 229% more advertising on TV in 2015 and 2016, respectively. On channels catering to the five southern states, retail jewellery and ready-made garment sectors see double-digit growth in advertising.

What’s equally interestingly is the sharp dip in ads immediately after the festive season. In 2015, ad spots on TV, in the period post-Diwali, dropped by 13%. In 2016 and 2017 it dropped by 22% and 7% respectively.

Over the years though, we are seeing that many brands, especially e-commerce and cell phone players, among others, have been effectively using granular insights provided by TV viewership data, and are coming up with focused advertising throughout the year and not just during festive season.

Looking at the data, I feel that the economy has moved ahead from the policy impacts of last year. Confidence in the economy and consumer seems to be on a high and advertising on TV looks set to scale another high. This surely, is going to be a better festive season than last year. I am putting my money on that!

The survey results bring out more than TV-related stats and points to an India on the move - on some key social and economic indices

By Partho Dasgupta

One commonly heard phrase in any market is “We are evolving, every single day.” When it comes to India, it is more than a mere statement. In the broadcast sector particularly, the pace of change and evolution is dizzying. Content, Delivery Format, Number of TV Channels etc. are all ‘evolving’ along with technology and changing tastes. At India’s TV viewership measurement company, we deep dived into this ‘Changing India’ in the recently released Broadcast India (BI) 2018 survey. The just released BI Survey brings out the underlying changes in consumer/viewer profiles in our towns, cities and villages. 

What are the big takeaways of the BI 2018 Survey?

First, TV is not going away, or “dying” - as some soothsayers have been proclaiming for a few years now. Yes ‘Digital viewing’ is growing rapidly. But TV continues to grow and will do so in the foreseeable future.  Our BI-2018 survey has revealed a 7.5% growth in TV owning homes since 2016 – from 183 to 197 million. The corresponding growth in TV viewing individuals is 7.2% - from 780 to 836 mn. I remain optimistic about the future of TV because even now 100 million Indian homes don’t yet have access to TV.

The survey results brings out more than TV related stats and it points to an India on the move: on some key social and economic indices. The Narendra Modi led government has devoted a huge amount of its attention and resources on making India Clean through its ‘Swachh Bharat’ campaign. Between 2016-2018, central government aired 4.8 lakh ad spots on TV to educate citizens on cleanliness and use of Toilets. BI-2018 Survey shows that those efforts are paying huge dividends.71% of Indian homes today have access to Toilets, up from 58% in 2016. Rural homes with toilets have grown from a low of 45% to a very respectable 63%; while 86% of Urban homes currently have toilets, up from 83%.

Let’s look at another area that has been a key focus area for the government: Electrification. As per BI 2018 Survey, 99% of Urban and 91% of Rural homes have access to electricity. What we have also observed is that one of the first things that a family buys once they have access to electricity is a TV set. Refrigerator, Electric Mixer are lower in the shopping list!

BI-2018 data also validates efforts of the government’s ‘Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana’. On the ground, LPG/PNG penetration in India has gone up from 58% to 72% of homes. While 91% of Urban homes use clean cooking gas, in rural, it stands at 62%.The country is making headway even on the education front. People with education above SSC/HSC has gone up by 5% to 379 million, while the country currently boasts of 93 million graduates. Yes, the dream of seeing a India that is 100% educated, is still far. But this growth gives hope of making this a reality.

You know a country is on the right growth path, when more and more woman attain ‘Working’ status. BI 2018 Survey points out that since 2016, 25% more woman have moved from being a house-wife to a working woman. The working married woman currently stands at 101 million, as against 81 million in 2016. One statistic that would give each Indian a reason to feel proud.    

The BI Survey highlights a shift in the country’s socio-economic composition. Thanks to the improving disposable income, NCCS D/E or the lower income group have moved up the ladder, leading to a rise of the Middle Class (NCCS B & C) that now comprise 47% of the total homes. For advertisers, this is the segment to watch out for.

TV homes in India are growing faster than the number of homes as Indians continue their love for watching television, led by small towns and rural areas. While TV homes in the country have seen a 7.5 per cent jump, the growth of homes stood at 4.5 per cent, according to the Broadcast India (BI) 2018 Survey by BARC.

The total TV homes in India stand at 298 million compared to 286 million in the 2016 survey. “The survey showcases the changing face of India. However, what hasn’t changed is the fact that TV remains the most effective platform for both content creators and advertisers to reach their audiences,” Partho Dasgupta, CEO, BARC India, said in a statement here.
“India is a country which is driven by family viewing and this shows in the increase in the number of TV households. With a penetration of just 66 per cent, there is still a huge scope of growth in the space,” he added.
The survey findings are based on a sample study of 3 lakh homes in the country. It showed that the number of TV viewing individuals has grown by 7.2 per cent to 836 million from the previous 780 million, while TV homes in urban and rural India grew by 4 per cent and 10 per cent respectively.
The average time spent (ATS) by TV viewing individuals too has seen a 3 per cent growth and currently stands at 3 hours and 44 minutes. “This is driven by urban, which has seen an increase of 5 per cent in ATS (4 hour 06 min). ATS in Rural India has grown by 2 per cent and stands at 3 hours 27 minutes,” the report said.
The male-female split of TV owning individuals as per BI 2018 is: 429 million-407 million. Male viewers grew by 6.9 per cent, while female viewers saw a growth of 7.5 per cent, the survey added.
 Indians still love watching television.

Since 2016, TV viewership in India has shot up by 12%, according to the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC)’s Broadcast India survey. This indicates that despite the proliferation of smartphones and cheap data, which have fueled the rise of on-demand entertainment networks like Hotstar and Netflix, Indians remain invested in television sets.

BARC, which monitors TV ownership and viewership habits in India, studied 300,000 households for the survey, the findings of which were released on July 26.

The survey report indicates a 7.5% increase in the number of TV-owning households across India to 197 million in 2018. The number of viewers also rose by 7.2% to 836 million. In comparison, Hotstar, the leading over the top video streaming platform in India, has just a little over 60 million users.

“India is a country driven by family viewing and this shows in the increase in the number of TV households,” Partho Dasgupta, CEO of BARC India, said in a statement. 
Some 66% of the 300 million-odd Indian households own TV sets. More money in the hands of rural consumers—i.e., 65% of the country’s population—has led to a 10% growth in TV ownership in 2018. In urban India, it was up by 4%, BARC’s report said.
Across households, the average time spent by individuals on watching TV rose 3% in 2018. On average, Indians spent 3 hours 44 minutes on the medium daily in 2018—4 hours and 6 minutes in urban India and 3 hours, 27 minutes in rural India.
These numbers mean that television still accounts for the largest share (45%) of annual advertising revenue even, though the medium hasn’t grown much in the last two years, according to 2017 estimates by GroupM. 

“…what hasn’t changed is the fact that TV remains the most effective platform for both content creators and advertisers to reach their audiences,” Dasgupta added.
Hindi-speaking and southern markets witnessed spikes of 12% and 10% in viewership respectively.

In an era of increased competition from video streaming platforms, total television viewership in the country has gone up by 12% from 2016. The number of TV homes has also grown by 7.5% from 2016, outpacing the growth of total homes, which rose at 4.5%. These are the findings of the Broadcast India 2018 Survey conducted by Broadcast Audience Research Council (Barc) India.

There are currently 298 million homes in India, out of which 197 million have TV sets, providing an opportunity for penetration in an additional 100 million homes.

Barc India is the TV viewership monitoring agency. The Broadcast India 2018 Survey offers data and insights on TV ownership, viewing habits, consumer profiles and behaviour. It is based on a sample study of 300,000 homes.

“...TV remains the most effective platform for both content creators and advertisers to reach their audiences,” said Partho Dasgupta, chief executive officer, Barc India, in a statement.

According to the findings, the average time spent by an individual in watching TV per day has gone up by 3% to touch 3 hours 44 minutes.

The Hindi-speaking and southern markets witnessed spikes of 12% and 10% in viewership respectively. Gujarati channels witnessed the highest growth in viewership at 66%. Hindi news channels came in at a distant second with 24% growth while English news and business news channels witnessed 22% growth.

According to the survey, NCCS B & C, which is the middle class, accounts for 63% of TV homes in India. There are 123 million TV homes in this category. NCCS, or New Consumer Classification System, is a system of categorizing households according to socio-economic status based on criteria such as education and goods owned.

The affluent form 84% of TV homes in the country. Interestingly, now there are fewer homes in the low-socio economic class as they have seen a 13% drop. This points to the improving disposable income of Indian homes and is reflective of rising economic growth and prosperity. Viewership contribution of the affluent class has grown by 15%.

“Online platforms may be a threat to television in the future but there is still some time to go,” said Abneesh Roy, senior vice-president at Edelweiss Securities. “As of now, migration to urban areas results in greater TV penetration, and the numbers also come from nuclearization of families and multiple TV homes. Plus, there is always the introduction of new HD (high-definition features).”

The march of the idiot box in India is unstoppable. 

Though consumption of video on digital platforms is on the rise in the country, good old television continues to score in terms of penetration and has large headroom left to fill. As per the latest Broadcast India survey (BI-2018) by the joint industry body BARC India the country now has 197 million TV homes, up from 183 million in 2016. 

While the growth has been at a steady 7.6%, total TV penetration is now at 66% against 64% in the last survey. The report is expected to be released later this week. The BI-2018 survey also notes that the number of individuals with access to television has gone up to 835 million; more than the population of Europe. In contrast, smartphone penetration in the country is still at around 300 million. 

Jehil Thakkar, partner at Deloitte India, said that television is, and will remain, the biggest medium for the foreseeable future in India. “For at least 10 years, TV and appointment viewing will continue in India. The reason is that TV is extremely affordable — you can get a basic cable for Rs 120 a month or free-to-air channels via FreeDish for free.” The numbers definitely reflect strong growth in the TV universe. 

It is also important because TV, collaring 45% of the total ad spends, continues to be the largest medium for advertisers and is expected to grow at 13% this year. As per GroupM’s estimate, advertisers are expected to spend `31,596 crore on the medium, making it a vehicle of choice in terms of brand building. “TV is a preferred medium of choice to reach masses and advertisers’ behaviour is not going to change suddenly,” Thakkar added. 

Interestingly, the five southern states — Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Kerala, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu — have more than 90% TV penetration. But states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan and a few North East Indian states have much lower number of TV sets, pulling down national TV penetration level to 66%. But, it also means that 34% of households in India are yet to buy a TV set. 

The Narendra Modi government announced on May 1 that the country has achieved 100% electrification of 600,000 villages in the country. Most surveys suggest that once electricity reaches a household, the first electronic product it buys is a TV. “TV and refrigerator are two general use items people buy first once they get electricity,” Thakkar added. 

This is BARC’s own survey, which will help the measurement body make changes to its universe estimation. The survey was carried out between November 2017 and March 2018. It covers 300,000 respondents across 4,400 towns and collects data on TV ownership, connection type, language preferences and other media consumption habits. 

As per the survey, there is a clear rise in the middle class. NCCS (New Consumer Classification System) D and E TV households have seen almost 14% fall to 31 million households from 36 million in last survey. 

Cricket remains the major contributor to sports viewership on Indian television, but footballgot a boost with the just-concluded 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russiawhere India was not even participating.

Sportsviewership year-on-year has gone up. While it contributed 2.8 per cent to total TV viewership in 2016, it grew to 3.2 per cent in 2017 and 3.48 per cent in 2018, according to data from the Broadcast Audience Research Council(BARC).

With 64 per cent contribution to the sportsgenre coming from cricket, it remains the dominant sport being consumed on TV currently. However, premium sports events like FIFAWorld Cup, Barclays Premier League, La Liga, Bundesligaand more have also proved to be a hit with Indian viewers, BARC pointed out.

For the first 58 matches, the 2018 FIFA World Cupgarnered a viewership of 194.1 million impressions, while the combined viewership for the first two Indiavs England T20 matches was 20.7 million impressions, the not-for-profit body that publishes weekly TV viewership data for India, said in response to a query by IANS.

Impressions is the number of individuals of a target audience who viewed an "event", averaged across minutes.

In June 2018 (week 23-27), which had both cricket (Indiavs Ireland and India vs England) and soccer(Hero Intercontinental Cupand FIFA World Cup), the contribution of soccer to the sports genre on TV was 30 per cent, while that of cricketwas 15 per cent.

The scale of viewership for footballhas seen an upswing that was spurred by the FIFA U-17 World CupIndia 2017, says Rajesh Kaul, Chief Revenue Officer, Distribution, and Head, Sports, Sony Pictures Network (SPN), one of the predominant players in the sports broadcasting business in India.

"The FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017, which was the first FIFA event to be held in India, had a very positive impact on increasing viewership for footballin India. The tournament turned out to be a milestone event as it became the most attended and highest-scoring tournament in its history.

"Over 35 per cent of total viewership for the FIFA U-17 World Cup came from non-traditional football markets. Overall reach was over 47 million viewers across India. With the FIFA World Cup 2018 Russia, the scale became even greater," Kaul told IANS.

The 2018 FIFA World Cup was shown on SONY TEN 2, SONY TEN 3 and SONY ESPN channels.

Kaul said while India did not even participate, viewers in the nation had their favourite countries during the tournament, in which Franceemerged the winner beating Croatia in a thrilling final earlier this month.

With favourable timing of matches for Indian viewers and with SPN's coverage expanding to regional language feeds -- in Hindi, Malayalam, Bengali, Tamil and Telugu -- viewership of the football gala was "impressive", Kaul said, adding that there was a rise in interest not only among men but women too.

As per BARC India's data, while the 2018 FIFA World Cup kicked off on June 14 (week 24), a comparison of the previous four weeks (week 20-23) to week 24-27 shows a 2 per cent de-growth in the viewership of Hindi GeneralEntertainment Channels (GEC) genre -- which could be because most of the FIFA games were not played during Hindi GEC primetime.

To give the football fever a further boost, SPN had launched a "#MeriDoosriCountry" campaign.

"The World Cup is the largest sporting event across the globe and it appeals to a diverse set of viewers. There are football fans and then there are FIFA World Cup fans who emerge to support their "doosri country" every four years. Our campaign focused on bringing fans together to cheer for their adopted country even though they don't have any national connect," Kaul said.

Vis-a-vis cricket, were there bigger advertisers and brands pitching for ad space during football matches?

"FIFA World Cup is one of the largest advertising platformsfor many brands. The viewership of such tournaments is very high, which resulted in brands showing great interest in the tournament," Kaul said.

By Partho Dasgupta

There are some 850 licensed TV channels in India, marked by a strong regional broadcast landscape. Imagine what brand marketers go through every time they have to plan a campaign that needs to target people in different parts of the country.

Advertising is about the ‘art of differentiation’. Yes, this does resort to some stereotyping as well. But the reality is that advertising reflects human behaviour, and advertisers have been able to understand and use it to their advantage. Advertising also has a seasonal pattern: different categories peaking and waning in different months. During summers, for instance, TV ads for airconditioners and ice-cream go up.

Likewise, in winter, thermalwear and cold creams pop up more frequently on TV screens. It is no surprise that chewing and bubblegum, breakfast cereals and chocolate are among the top-advertised categories on children’s channels. But dig deeper into the data and it is apparent that differentiation in advertising is based on regions as well. An analysis of the most popular ads (by the number of spots aired) on various regional language channels in 2017 throws up interesting facts. Facts that tie in with some common perceptions that, in turn, are based on behavioural and lifestyle-related aspects of a particular region.

Take Odisha, Assam and Kerala. Thesethree states stand out for the relatively high volume of agarbatti (joss sticks) ads. This may have some religious aspect to it, considering that these states have famous pilgrimage centres. But the fact is that advertisers see merit in plugging a relatively higher number of agarbatti ads on Odiya, Assamese and Malayalam language channels.

In West Bengal, antiseptic creams and analgesic and anti-cold tablets feature in the five most-advertised categories on Bengali channels. They also carry the highest number of spots for antiseptic creams. This can be explained by West Bengal’s love for the iconic ‘Bengali’ brand of Boroline. Advertisers may have reason to believe that the fondness covers the entire category of ‘antiseptic creams’, and not just the single brand.

The first thing that strikes you when someone mentions ‘Gujarat’ is the fondness of its people for fried snacks. This can be linked to the fact that one of the largest category of advertised products on Gujarati channels is digestives. With its special love for music, the top advertised category on Punjabi channels is music albums, followed by categories that include motor vehicles and immigration consultants. Advertisements on south Indian channels reflect the region’s love for gold. Data also indicates the strong affinity for films in the southern states of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka and Kerala. Both these inferences are reflected in the fact that 76% of jewellery ads and 44% of film trailers are aired on Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam language channels.

While there seems to be a pattern in the manner in which different categories of advertisers flock to different regional channels, data show another pattern in categories that line up to advertise on English language channels. Viewers of these channels, particularly those living in the metros, are considered ‘premium audiences’. And this bucketing is reflected in ad data, too.

The three most advertised categories on English language television channels show a stark difference from what can be see on channels addressing the ‘rest of the country’. Online shopping brands’ ad spots come up as the most advertised category here. This is followed by smartphones and cars. This ties in with the higher purchasing power of viewers living in the big cities.

There are also categories that do not advertise on certain regional channels. Take mobile caller-tune ads. In 2017, not a single caller-tune ad was aired on any Kannada channel. Likewise, ads from the adhesive category were not seen on Assamese channels. Airline ads did not focus on Gujarati channels, while artificial sweetener ads did not show up on any Assamese, Malayalam or Bhojpuri channels.

Could this be because of the non-availability of these products in these markets? So, when one looks at the rapid proliferation of regional channels, one can’t help but highlight the growing scope of sharper targeted advertising. Indians may not like being stereotyped — while they happily stereotype others, including themselves — but the next time you see an ad on television, try mapping it to your lifestyle. Is there a connect? If yes, that’s a plus point for the marketing guys. And also for the sharpness of the available data.

From Prime Minister Modi to Virat Kohli, television viewing clustered around a new set of viewership magnets in 2017

By Partho Dasgupta

Indians love their daily dose of entertainment and there was never a better time for the viewer than the year that’s winding down. There are now about 780 million individuals connected to TV and for the average TV viewer, 2017 was like being a kid in a candy store: with 850 plus licensed channels, Indian viewers were spoilt for choice.

What were the big events that shook up the TV landscape in 2017? Apart from the growth in TV penetration, DAS-IV finally went into overdrive, and digitisation spread its reach. This conversion of ‘analogue cable homes’ into ‘digital homes’ exposed many households to a wider spectrum of content (more TV channels at their fingertips). More to choose from meant more surfing, which resulted in a fragmented viewership map.

Cricket, movies and politics were the three top draws on TV. But within those buckets there were some new trends, and also some discernible changes in viewership patterns. That Indians are drawn to stars is well known, but we were able to identify some new viewership magnets this year.

But first, some numbers to set the context. Contrary to the opinions voiced by some commentators, TV consumption continued to grow. Total TV viewership saw a 23 per cent spike over the previous year, time spent watching grew six per cent, and the number of people watching TV rose 17 per cent. While the highest weekly viewership recorded in 2016 was 26.6 billion impressions, 30.3 billion impressions was the new peak in 2017. In terms of disruptions, second screen viewing has definitely begun to shake up the ecosystem. But like what is being seen in markets across the globe, in India too, digital will grow not at the cost of, but together with TV across genres.

While young, affluent Indians living in metros (in TV parlance: NCCS AB, age group 15-30, mega-cities) may be glued to their handheld devices, their consumption of TV is not slowing down. Niche genres associated with such audiences are growing too. For instance, English News viewership grew 114 per cent this year. English Movies and English GEC recorded 15 per cent and 30 per cent growth respectively. Lifestyle channels have collectively grown by 10 per cent.

Coming to people who moved the needle as far as TV viewership is concerned, 2017 was the year of Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli. His mere presence at the crease spiked viewership by as much as 30 per cent on an average. And whenever he got out, viewership dropped by as much as 50 per cent. Advertisers and brand managers too have sought to make the most of Virat’s screen presence. One particular clothing brand that features ‘Virushka’ in a wedding scene, placed 95 per cent of its ads this year in the three weeks prior to November 11, when the marriage season kicks off. Talk of riding the brand-wagon!

Non-cricket sports came into their own, contributing as much as 20 per cent of the genre viewership. And a big chunk – 80 per cent– came from Kabaddi, Football and the Rio Olympics. 2017 also saw the rise of non-cricket stars like PV Sindhu and Sakshi Malik. Sample this: there was 25x growth in the number of ads featuring PV Sindhu that aired on TV in 2017 over 2016.

In News, PM Modi continued to be the biggest draw. On Independence Day, 26 million people tuned in to watch the PM’s address from Red Fort, despite the early hour. Viewership of Hindi News channels doubled, while that of English News channels went up 7 times (compared to previous 4-week average).

Movies continued to captivate viewers. But in the Hindi Speaking Market (HSM), while 2016 belonged to Salman Khan (with “Prem Ratan Dhan Payo” and “Bajrangi Bhaijan”) this year saw the rise of a new star in Prabhas and the Bahubali franchise. The first time “Bahubali - The Conclusion” was telecast, the entire genre saw a jump of 21 per cent. The repeat airing led to a spike of 18 per cent, and even in the tail end of 2017, in Week 50, “Bahubali – The Beginning” emerged as the top watched Hindi film on TV. Till date, the two Bahubali films (between the various language versions) have aired 63 times on Indian television! So on an average, one of the films was on air every week of the year!

In Hindi GEC, the big game changers were reality shows. The genre bet big on reality, more than doubling the share of such programmes in prime time compared to last year. These programmes delivered 1.7 million impressions per episode, which was 16 per cent higher than the 1.4 million impressions/episode garnered by fiction based shows.

In the regional space, we saw viewership patterns that were also impacted by spread of digitisation. In Maharashtra for instance, viewers showed their preference for general entertainment and Music, while in West Bengal, viewers increased their consumption of movies. In the south, movies were a big draw, especially in Tamil Nadu and AP/Telangana. Kerala and Karnataka however showed a strong preference for News.

Another big disruption that is re-shaping television consumption in India is growth of HD: both in terms of number of channels as well as viewership. Over the year, number of HD channels has grown 41 per cent while viewership has risen 169 per cent. 2018 will hold out more surprises as the landscape sees more churn and change and the viewers wield their remote powers even more aggressively. Get set for a new set of magnets.  
Partho Dasgupta

In the world of cricket, Virat Kohli is already a legend. As India captain, he leads from the front, wears his passion on his sleeve, and under his captaincy, the Indian cricket team has acquired a lethal edge. 

Breaking records has become a habit with Kohli, as has winning games, awards and accolades. There is no doubt that his spirit is infectious, almost like the pull that Sachin Tendulkar had over our cricket-crazy nation. The same trends can be seen in television viewership. 

That cricket rules Indians hearts, heads and TV screens is stating the obvious. But Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) India data clearly shows that within the three formats of cricket— Test, One-Day International (ODI) and Twenty20 (T20) — the last two are overwhelmingly more popular. 

ODIs and T20s are actually the ideal formats for TV. These shorter formats, being result-oriented and within a stipulated timeframe, lead to stickier eyeballs and higher volumes too. BARC India data shows that on an average, the viewership for an ODI and T20 aired on a single channel garners anywhere between eight million and 12 million impressions. The viewership garnered by a channel airing a Test series on an average is 2-2.5 million impressions. 

Within ODIs and T20s, the data matches the sentiment of a game. High-scoring games and close finishes invariably garner higher viewership. Take the Indian Premier League (IPL). On an average, matches with scores of 180 and above garnered 21.26 million impressions. 

Low-scoring matches, with scores of less than 100, managed a low viewership of an average 14.4 million impressions. 

Now add a star performer like Kohli, and the viewership graphs go off the charts. In fact, sometimes even a ‘dull match’ comes alive on the viewership charts when Kohli gets going. 

In the fifth ODI of the Micromax Cup against Sri Lanka, Kohli’s 110 off 116 deliveries sealed the series 5-0 for India. It was a dead rubber, but Kohli’s time at the crease time at the crease bumped up viewership by 30%, compared to the average for the entire match. 

In the second ODI at Kolkata of the recent India-Australia series that India won by 50 runs, Kohli’s 92 took impressions up by as much as by 31%. Interestingly, female viewership of this match was as high as 60%. This syncs with his image, doesn’t it? 
Conversely, when Kohli is dismissed early, viewership dips sharply. In the opening game of the Champions Trophy, which India lost to Sri Lanka, there was an immediate viewership drop 

of 50% once Kohli was out. But the Bahubali of cricket came good in the match against South Africa with a brilliant, unbeaten 76, ensuring a viewership surge of over 50%. This match sealed asemi-final berth for India as well. The Kohli magic works not just on-field but off it as well. With more than 15 brand endorsements under his belt, Kohli is the seventh most valuable brand among sportspersons globally. 

It’s clear this nation loves its heroes. 

Whether in the field of sports, films or politics, people who outshine their peers with their vision and performance are able to captivate the nation. This reflects in TV viewing. When Salman Khan appears on the weekend episodes of Bigg Boss, viewership spikes by 30%. 

Amitabh Bachchan continues to be a draw, as a TV host as well as a brand ambassador. Prime Minister Narendra Modi continues to drive up viewership whenever he appears on TV. Viewership doubled this year when he delivered his Independence Day speech from Red Fort. 

Coming back to Kohli, at the rate at which he is going, he is sure to break many records in the years to come. Each time he does that, rest assured, there will be a higher and higher viewership peak on the BARC India measurement screen.

By Partho Dasgupta

The best thing about my job—and I count that as a blessing—is that I get to experience first-hand the immense diversity that is the essence of India. Tracking viewership of 550+ TV channels, across 17-odd languages, and a wide range of content genres is indeed a privilege.

India is a country of many languages, cultures, cuisines, moods and festivals. And there is no better platform on which this incredible kaleidoscope is showcased than on television. This diversity comes through strongly in content choices that television offers, and what viewers across India consume.

Ahead of this festive season, I decided to drill into our data to see if I could pick up some trends that reflect consumer behaviour.

Festive season—it starts around early-to-mid-September and peaks around Diwali—is when most people go shopping. Be it their first car, a new refrigerator, painting and doing up homes, or going on a holiday—many prefer to wait for the festive season to indulge. The season is also considered auspicious by many, and hence they time their purchases during this period. 

So, do brands scale up their advertising to tap into this emotion?




With TV being the preferred destination for advertisers, it came as no surprise to me when I saw trends thrown up by the Broadcast Audience Research Council (Barc) India data: ad spots on TV peak significantly during the festive season, and there is also healthy growth year-on-year. In 2015, average weekly ad spots on TV during the festive season was 1,154,991, which grew to 1,336,483 in 2016. This year, ahead of Diwali, that number is 1,416,037—a growth of 23% over the last two years.

I drilled a little deeper to understand advertiser behaviour during each festive season. I looked at average weekly ad spots that air on TV during the July-August period, along with the number that air during the festive season.

In 2015, ad spots on TV grew 20% in the festive season. In 2016, the spike was recorded at 14%. This year, it is already 21%. 

A Barc India-McKinsey study indicates that TV advertising spends will continue to grow year-on-year. In fact, it will double by 2020, and will retain its 42% share in total advertising. This is also reflected in the growth chart of ad insertions, especially during festivals.


Going through the data for 2015-2017, I spotted another interesting detail: ad insertions on TV during the season are beginning to climb earlier than the previous year. While in 2015 the volume of ad insertions on TV started rising four weeks prior to Diwali, in 2016 we saw the rise happening five weeks earlier. This year, the upward trend is a clear full 10 weeks before Diwali.

The significant impact of the festive season on advertising can be clearly seen in Barc India data. Ad insertions dropped 22% post demonetisation, but quickly recovered in the weeks leading up to Christmas, when they grew by 8%. 

Across 2015-2017, growth in advertising on TV has been driven by all categories. I decided to drill down another layer to understand which categories and brands get more active during the festive season, possibly to ride the mood of celebration.

Our data indicates that online shopping and travel bookings, two- and four-wheelers, smartphones, ready-made garments and jewellery brands scale up their messaging on TV during the festive period. Just the kind of spends a lot of us make in this season, isn’t it?

The category comprising e-commerce companies like Flipkart and Amazon has upped its advertising on TV by almost 40% this year. Four-wheeler ad spots are up 50%, while two-wheeler is up a whopping 160%. Smartphone ad spots are up 90%, while jewellery and ready-made garments are up 125%.

Not only do travel booking sites and tour operators raise their pitch at this time of the year, I also spotted that tourism boards of several countries like Australia, Japan, Abu Dhabi and Singapore plug their ads on TV during this period. They know that more and more Indians are becoming “global tourists”, and the best way to catch their attention is to advertise on TV.

Once again, we see consumer sentiment and behaviour clearly reflected in Barc India data, as also advertiser response to festive period opportunities. Barc India data faithfully records what’s happening on the ground. Fidelity remains our calling card.

On that note, I would like to wish you all a very Happy Diwali and a healthy and prosperous New Year!

Partho Dasgupta

As people tune in to watch unfurl the tri-colour on our 70th Independence Day, the annual event that unfailingly records massive viewership numbers, they will be sending out the signal that some habits do not change. Watching the Prime Minister’s address on August 15 is among the few rituals that Indian viewers have steadfastly held on to, in the midst of tumultuous changes that have overtaken the broadcasting world. Over the past year and more, we have seen a few shifts in viewer behaviour; sports viewership is no longer limited to cricket, niche channels are drawing in bigger numbers and the number of channels per household has shot up dramatically.
The television set has for long been one of the biggest binding agents for Indian families; an inseparable part of our lives for decades. Be it that box sitting in the corner of a home, or the flat panel hanging on the walls of another. A constant in our lives, and yet part of the enormous changes that have swept through India over last couple of decades, TV has been through its own revolution cycle in the country.
From black-and-white to colour, from a single-channel DD to the 24x7, 600+ channels of today, from SD to HD and beyond. From the ‘idiot box’ to the era of ‘smart TVs’, television has seen it all. And it has been more than a bystander; I would say that TV has also been a catalyst for change. And now, with digitisation completed in almost all parts of India, homes across the country are witnessing another freedom–the freedom of choice of content.
I believe that 1992 was the cusp year when privatisation of TV broadcasting saw an explosion of channels and the entry of many global players like STAR and homegrown brands like ZEE. The boom was further fuelled by mushrooming of regional players.
Cut to today, when thanks to DAS  (digital addressable systems) we have over 600-odd channels at our fingertips, 1992 seems pretty tame in comparison. In terms of actual viewing, the number of channels viewed per week at the household level has gone up from 40 to 70.

In the Hindi General Entertainment Channels (GEC) space there has been a growth of almost 50 per cent in the number of channels viewed and time spent on viewing.
One feature that has not changed, however, is that India remains a largely single-TV household market and TV-viewing continues to be the favourite family pass-time. But within that, we are witnessing significant changes in TV viewing preferences – driven by growing economic prosperity and rising aspirations. One clear indicator of that is the proliferation of High Definition (HD) channels, which number over 80 today. These channels are clocking up viewership from across urban and rural India, especially those that beam sports content.
In fact, the sports genre has seen big-time changes in recent times. While cricket remains a religion, broadcasters are also placing their faith in other sports like kabaddi, wrestling, football, tennis, and badminton. The rise of sports leagues like Pro Kabaddi League, (PKL) Indian Super League, (ISL) Hockey India League (HIL) is indicative of that trend. And BARC India data further corroborates the growing fan base of sports outside of cricket, with their broadcasts contributing to as much as 20 per cent to total sports viewership. What is also interesting is the 40-45 per cent contribution of female viewership to this genre, and the fact that fan-base cuts across the socio-economic spectrum.
These are very healthy trends, which should spur further investments in the genre, which in turn could be the next engine for growth of TV in India. We do have a long way to go down that path however: In the US, the sports genre accounts for around 37 per cent of the total TV ad spends. In India, that figure currently hovers around 8-10 per cent mark.
While the sports category has seen a lot of activity during the year, films on TV continue to retain their evergreen status with viewers, highlighting our continued love for the silver screen and its stars. But here too, the battle for eyeballs is getting brutal as the viewers are presented with a  wider range of content. So while a Salman Khan or Rajinikanth film premiere on TV guarantees family viewing, the young are also checking out latest Hollywood premieres and current seasons of American television series like Game of Thrones and House of Cards.
The big story in this journey, however, has been the growth of ‘niche channels’. Over the last two years, viewership of the lifestyle genre has more than doubled. Who would have thought that we would have channels devoted exclusively to cooking, travel, wildlife, nature, science and music, and that they would acquire dedicated audiences? Who could have predicted that a show like Masterchef Australia would develop a cult following? And guess where these viewers of nature, cookery, travel et al are from? Not just from the metros. When we look at the numbers, it seems as if rural India is racing fast to catch up with their urban cousins–as is also evident from the higher growth in rural viewership (155 per cent) as compared to urban (118 per cent).
So, on this Independence Day, sit back, flip the remote and enjoy the freedom of choice. 
By Partho Dasgupta 

Women watch soaps. Men watch news. That's the conventional wisdom. But like with many conventions, this one too flew out of the window when Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced his demonetisation initiative.

November 8, 2016, is the cusp around which the Broadcasting Audience Research Council (Barc) India observed this tectonic shift in viewership patterns. As families grappled with demonetisation, TV viewership behaviour also changed, reflecting the new reality . News became the new frontier, and more and more women boldly went where few of them had gone before.

Whether they were working professionals or traditional homemak ers, most women didn't mind taking time out of saas-bahu sagas for news programmes. There was more drama happening in their lives by the demonetisation announcement than in any serial, and their immediate worry was to keep their homes running smoothly during this period of disruption.

Women wanted to keep track of daily developments, and the impact on their lives that demonetisation was bringing. And they did that by tuning into news channels. The news genre saw a spurt in viewership like never before. At an all-India level, viewers tuning into news grew 38% post-demonetisation. Viewers were also spending as much as 7% more time watching news around the demonetisation development.

Female tune-ins rose by a whopping 44%. It wasn't just more people watching news. People were also watching more of news -more `time spent'. While this growth was visible for news across all languages, it was more pronounced for Hindi news. Female viewers spent 33% and 13% more time watching Hindi and English news genres respectively after the announcement of demonetisation.

Some of this growth naturally came from those who didn't watch much TV earlier, or any at all. But BARC data shows that a significant amount of the `new news viewers' were those who otherwise watched other content such as TV soaps and movies. And a large number of them were women.

Viewership trends of the four weeks before and after the demonetisation announcement clearly shows the increased interest of women in television news. Women viewership in English news grew by 36%, while in Hindi news it increased by 56%.

The effect of demonetisation can also be seen through the changes in trend of advertising split by sectors and categories of products. Given the context and fallout of demonetisation, one sector that leveraged on advertising the most was the banking sector. At an aggregate level, the share of banking, finance and investment sector ads rose by 22% after demonetisation. Within that, advertising spots of online payment gateways spiked a whopping 124%.

BARC data proves that what people watch on TV is a subset of larger choices that reflect their behaviour.And when a major event like demonetisation unfolds, television viewership also aligns to how people's lives are impacted.
Clearly, a need to measure digital has arisen as the medium has reached critical mass. Marketers need to know what is working and what is not

Shuchi Bansal

Much like several digital media experts, Rajiv Dingra, founder and chief executive of the social and digital media agency WATConsult, too, welcomed the announcement made by Broadcast Audience Research Council (Barc) India last week.

Barc India, the television viewership monitoring body, said that it had tied up with research and information firm Nielsen for a range of digital media monitoring products that it will offer. Dingra is looking forward to a transparent digital measurement system with common metrics.

With Nielsen as its primary digital measurement partner, Barc India promises to launch a host of services under the brand name EKAM that will enable comprehensive video measurement, that is, all video (advertisements and content) played across TV and digital platforms. Initially, however, it will measure only advertising, that is, the video ad campaigns, and the services will be rolled out over a period of two years starting at the end of this year.

Barc says EKAM will allow the industry to transact on a common currency with transparency.

It is easy to see why Barc India is keen to launch its digital measurement services. The time is ripe for these services to come into the Indian market.

“The consumption on second screen is increasing. Based on forecasts in several industry reports, digital advertising is pegged to grow at 30%+ to reach about Rs9,500 crore in 2017, accounting for about 15% of total ad spend. This itself makes measuring the platform essential,” says Partho Dasgupta, chief executive, Barc India.

Apart from this, globally, there has been talk about the need for a third-party digital measurement to bring in transparency and uniformity.

“Currently, different platforms have different metrics to measure performance of ads or content being aired. This does not give the advertisers the right knowledge on their RoI (return on investment),” he adds.

“Digital is a fast-growing medium and a big area for measurement. Large and small businesses as well as SMEs (small and medium enterprises) are going for digital advertising and there is a dearth of measurement in the sector right now,” says Prasun Basu, president, South Asia, at Nielsen.

It is also time to look beyond the buzz around digital. It is important to measure digital media as the companies are increasingly enhancing their expenditure on the medium. Instead of the 4-5% share of the total advertising budget which they kept aside for digital, their spending on the medium now is nearly 15% on average.

“In fact, some youth-focused companies are spending as much as 30% of their total media budgets on digital. That is significant. It is no longer a 5% medium,” says Basu.

Clearly, a need to measure digital has arisen as the medium has reached critical mass. Marketers need to know what is working and what is not. They need to study its effectiveness.

Basu says that when a medium gets a measurement system of its own, it starts growing.

To be sure, for the last couple of years, Nielsen was running a digital media study for its individual clients. But once the Barc-Nielsen measurement is launched, it will become an industry standard.

“Once the new measurement metrics is rolled out, it can serve 200 clients at the same time,” adds Basu.

It is also a great time to launch digital measurement services as online media is growing rapidly. According to a December 2016 report by the Internet and Mobile Association of India and market research firm IMRB International, the number of Internet users in India was expected to reach 450-465 million by June 2017.

The report added that the overall Internet penetration in India is currently around 31% with sufficient headroom for growth.

According to Dingra, the growth drivers for Internet adoption in India are availability and affordability of smartphones with declining rates for high-speed data. Besides, availability of content in local languages also plays a major role in the growing adoption of Internet in the country.

There’s definitely a consumer pull that is fuelling growth in online media. Local language content, access to family and friends via the Internet in addition to access to education, entertainment and even facilities like healthcare and e-commerce are major reasons for the consumer pull.

The growth is also on account of the government’s push to make India digital and encourage the use of digital payment gateways as well as the efforts of marketers to enhance the distribution of their products and services.

Clearly, the future of digital media in India is bright, and mobile will be the primary mode of digital consumption.

“Explosion of video content and multi-format content in video form will be the norm,” says Dingra, adding that “technological upgradation including but not limited to automation, artificial intelligence and programmatic will result in even more accurately targeted messaging, hence increasing the digital advertising relevance.”

The IAMAI-IMRB report said that urban India has close to 60% Internet penetration, but the penetration in rural India is 17%, which indicates the vast potential for growth.

“Clearly, there will be the entry of rural consumers and thereby rural-centric services and content will evolve. Besides, vernacular content platforms will also experience growth,” Dingra says.

It’s been two years of India’s audience measurement company BARC rolling out its first data set. Since then, it’s been a rollercoaster measuring the industry, examining the viewership patterns of the country and setting up Establishment Survey. Partho Dasgupta, CEO, BARC India, gives us his insight on how the journey has been so far, viewership patterns across genres, universe expansion, rural viewership and the broadcasting industry coming to terms with it.


How has the ride been when it comes to data rollout? What has been the biggest challenge so far?

From launching the first data set on April 29, 2015, to now, the journey has been a very challenging and satisfying one. While there is satisfaction from the successful release of data for the last 80 weeks, weekly data release still gives me sleepless nights. But, that is the way the industry functions.

The biggest challenge has been to explain to the industry the change in viewership pattern. It is an ongoing task and the team is doing a great job on it. 

After the BARC universe expansion, how have viewership patterns changed across various genres?

With the universe expansion, the number of total TV homes has gone up. Along with this, we have seen huge changes in the profile of TV viewers which has had a positive impact on genres. For instance, Hindi GEC grew by 17 per cent, Hindi Movies saw a spike of 19 per cent, English Movies saw an increase of 19 per cent and English Entertainment grew by 44 per cent. Our universe estimate shows the rise of the middle class and nuclear families within the TV viewing universe. The other genres have grown too, and the viewership of English genres continues to come strongly from beyond the metros as well.

Niche channels have questioned their representation in the expanded BARC universe. They feel they are not getting their due. What’s your take on that?

We have always maintained and communicated to players in the space that they should look at data over longer durations and larger TG base. This is solely because niche channels, due to their small viewership base, have a relative error that is higher than that of say Hindi GECs or Hindi Movies.

As mentioned earlier, post the universe update, genres including niche, have seen a huge growth in viewership. This is also in sync with the ground reality of more homes moving up the socio-economic ladder, digitization leading to a greater sampling of the larger number of channels available to the viewer, growth coming in from Tier 2 and 3 towns etc. Niche genres have grown post the realignment that has happened with our new universe estimate. Now, as we expand our panel homes size, and move towards incorporating Return Path Data (RPD) from digital distribution platforms, the data will get progressively more robust.

How are you dealing with the issue of pre and post evaluations and the variations that exist?

The variation in pre and post evaluations is mainly due to fidelity in data. We have been continuously speaking to our subscribers on this. In fact, we had also set up a Committee with members of AAAI and ISA to look into it and their feedback has been incorporated in the system. However, we believe that subscribers have understood the reasons for the variations and the seasonality associated with it. We have seen no pre-post issues in the last six months.  

What are the challenges ahead when it comes to Establishment Survey?

We would ideally want to do an Establishment Survey every year to be able to depict any on-ground changes. However, any large-scale survey like this is both time-consuming and incurs huge cost. Over the next couple of years, we will see different socio-demo and consumption patterns emerging and hence, it becomes critical to conduct this periodically for correct reflection.  

Which breakup of TG and geographical markets have witnessed the highest levels of fluctuations and changes?

Post our new universe estimate, MP/Chhattisgarh, West Bengal and Gujarat/D&D/DNH markets have seen the highest growth in viewership. We have also noticed that the younger generation is showing increased interest in TV. The biggest growth in viewership has come from the 2-14 and 15-21 age groups. This is good news for both the content creators and advertisers who can now target this young audience.   

What insights have you got from the urban and rural viewership breakdown, especially rural data?

Inclusion of rural viewership, which was being ignored earlier, has been a great eye opener. The industry is now realizing the importance of rural viewership and this has changed the landscape of television. The rise in the number of FTA channels, growth of Freedish, increase in advertising on FTA channels among other things point towards the changing approach to rural.

We have seen a 13 per cent rise in the number of advertisers on rural-focused channels. The biggest spike was seen in Hindi Speaking Markets (HSM) channels. From a 31 per cent share of total advertising, the share of FTA rose to 39 per cent. With around 38 per cent of the rural population forming the affluent base (NCCS A & B) and 47 per cent of total rural population in the age group of 15-40 years, it is they who form the belly of rural viewership. This shows that going forward, any premium or high-end product targeting need not necessarily be limited to urban anymore.

Last October, you mentioned that there is scope for improvement by making the data more robust through more sampling and more meters, but there comes in the economic issue of affordability of the industry as a whole. Where have you come to with regards to that?

Expansion of panel size is one of the ways to build higher degree of accuracy in our data. Apart from this, we are also working towards tying up with DTH and digital cable TV providers for Return Path Data (RPD). All these initiatives will help us increase our sample size and thus, drive more accuracy. We are also exploring other innovative ways to expand the sample size. 

How has Alpha Club evolved?

Alpha Club is a special report on viewership trends of NCCS A1, A2, A3 of 6 Mega Cities which we release for our subscribers on a rolling four-week period. The report has been well received and has proved beneficial for subscribers as well. Alpha Club has become a ready reference to derive viewership trends for our subscribers, especially those targeting this TG. We have seen Alpha Club reports being used in Industry forums and client pitches to showcase performance, which is a good sign. 

How long do you think it will take for data to stabilise?

It is not right to tag flux in data as instability. I am sure our subscribers will agree with my thought. The data we roll out is representative of ground reality. We were always robust and stable, and we still are. Also, since the landscape is dynamic and we have to recalibrate ourselves to make the data more accurate, there may be some disruptions in the short term. Take, for instance, our new universe estimate (UE). Yes, a lot has changed from the time we introduced the new UE, but how long will we trade on data based on a survey done in 2013? The industry understands this, and has welcomed the move.

The data is as stable as it can be and market changes will be reflected in it. 

Do you think broadcasters are finally able to understand the BARC system?

As an organization, our focus has always been on training and helping our subscribers with software and data related queries. The fact that the transition from the old system to the new universe happened so smoothly is a result of the constant interaction we keep having with our clients. Yes, it took some time, but our subscribers today understand fidelity in data.

MIB (Ministry of Information and Broadcasting) guidelines restrict us from giving any consultancy service to our subscribers. But, to help them plan better using our data, we are in the process of appointing third party consultancy firms who will provide this service to our subscribers. This will again help our clients understand the data and chart their strategy around it.

`Works at something sometimes somewhere’. That’s the description of the work profile on the Facebook page of  Partho Dasgupta, chief executive of Broadcast Audience Research Council of India or BARC India. And, that probably also gives a hint to all about the personality of the man, who sits on a hot seat balancing the delicate (and, may be, at times challenging, some would say) interests of various stakeholders of the organization, including the government.

When Dasgupta is not busy absorbing the data collated and crunched by his team at BARC India, he is, probably, strategizing along with his core team about the initiatives to be rolled out in a complex and diversified market like India or reading about branding and getting an insight into Indian media through books like ‘Behind a Billion Screens: What Television Tells Us About Modern India’. And, when he does get some family time, he would love nothing better than to travel along with his family and follow the F1 races around the world (speed helps me breathe, he says on his FB page) with a single malt whiskey – the older it is the better, his friends chuckle.

A media industry veteran,  Dasgupta’s stints at various organizations also do give a glimpse at his various areas of interests, which include organizations like the Times of India Group, Future Group, BARC India and also an entrepreneurial jab at a start-up that he mentored. Though he’s a hard taskmaster, as claimed by some of his past and present colleagues, he is also looked up to as a ‘yaroon ka yaar’ or a true friend who’s always around when you need him most.

On the occasion of BARC India’s second anniversary, engages Dasgupta on a wide range of subjects in an interview. Excerpts:

How would you describe the journey till now --- challenging or a process of evolution?

Any change is challenging and it’s true for us as well. From the time BARC India started reporting TV viewership, it has been a process of evolution for the industry, including us. The industry evolved when they understood fidelity of BARC India data, which was a true representative of actual viewership behavior. With support of industry, we have grown in both size and experience over the last two years. We have hired the right talent who have successfully reduced client queries and helped in a smooth transition for adopting the data.

Apart from addressing data needs of our clients, we also made an effort to reach out to the public at large, and sensitize them about BARC India data. We have made headline viewership data available to all through our mobile app and social media platforms. While we have achieved some of the things we had set out for, there is still a lot we aspire to do.   

Going forward, how do you see BARC making progress? What are the timelines and signposts?

This year we will see our panel expanding from 20,000 to 30,000 reporting homes. Combined with the newly added homes, we will also be seeding some new homes as part of our regular churn policy. We will also stop reporting on all analog homes across the country with the exception of Tamil Nadu state from 1 July 2017. With the current digitization mandate for TN, hopefully the state’s analog reporting will also stop soon.  All this may lead to some interim flux, but in the long term will improve robustness of our viewership data. We are also trying to innovate panel expansion by tying up directly with key DTH and digital cable operators to enable return path data (RPD).       

This year is also crucial for us as we will launch something that hasn’t been attempted in the country as yet --- a third party digital viewership measurement. We have set the ball rolling by announcing the umbrella brand EKAM under which our digital products will be offered. We are hoping to roll out the first EKAM product this year.

Apart from ensuring a stable weekly data service, we have launched THiNK (a monthly insights newsletter), Alpha Club (a report on viewership trends of NCCS A1, A2, A3 of 6 mega cities), and kids genre special report for the benefit of our subscribers. Earlier this year, we successfully rolled out our new universe estimate. We have also set up an independent disciplinary committee to check attempts at panel infiltration. Very soon industry will also be able to access designated independent consultancy firms who would provide strategic consultancy services.

Unlike some other global audience measurement currencies, BARC India’s impressions method seems a tad complex. How is it explained to clients, data users and the regulator and the government?

The terminology and methodology for data outputs is in keeping with global standards. BARC India Media Workstation (BMW) software used by subscribers for viewership data is easy to operate and is being used across 27+ countries. We also engage with our clients to understand their needs and that helps us align our services accordingly. We have a strong training team, which trains and provides support to every subscriber, new and existing. 

In fact, last year we launched a BMW certification programme for our subscribers  to enable them to test their knowledge of the software. The results have been very encouraging. We also meet the regulator and government from time to time to update them about the developments.
While it is endorsed by the industry, BARC India still faces some criticism from certain quarters and smaller TV players about security and its biases towards the biggies who are funding it. Your reactions.

While we are a joint industry company (JIC), we have never functioned like a monopoly and so we always welcome feedback from subscribers. As far as funding goes, we got the funding without any substantial equity investment from any shareholder. Our operations are built upon a unique debt funded model. So, it would be incorrect to say that “biggies” funded BARC India. We have a common pricing philosophy for all broadcasters, irrespective of whether it is a small or big broadcaster. For transparency, we have also placed it (the subscription methodology) on our website. 
Talking of security, BARC India didn’t hold back any punches while taking action against those involved in panel infiltration and it included some of the big names as well. Yes, there are some issues which our subscribers face. But that is more to do with understanding the data. Our team is working day in and day out to help them. This is normal for any new system and for all measurement companies around the world.    

Did BARC India and its top management foresee some of the problems and controversies that have beset the organization in recent times? Like the court cases arising out of chastising some users of paid/subscribed BARC data for alleged attempts at data manipulation?

If acting against defaulters who try to infiltrate our panel homes leads to controversy, we would happily get into it. That’s because we are answerable to our subscribers and it is our responsibility to ensure that the data we release holds value. Panel infiltration is a legacy issue, but BARC India has decided to take it head on. With advertising expenditure on TV in an upward trend, it is very important for us to ensure infiltration activities are rooted out.

While the defaulters have been crying foul, we have received tremendous support from the industry. Our intent is to always produce a currency which is fair, transparent and representative.

Was the formation of the disciplinary council, which seems a revamp of the ethics committee, a result of such cases mentioned above?

The independent six-member disciplinary council, under the leadership of Justice Mukul Mudgal, will further strengthen transparency and credibility of our measurement system. As it is an independent body, cases of infiltration or any such issue can be heard by the committee. This will ensure that both the subscribers and BARC India get a fair hearing in matters like these.

We have our on-ground vigilance team, which keeps a track of any malpractice. The disciplinary council will independently examine vigilance team reports and where culpability is clearly established, it will be empowered to order punitive action appropriate to the level of an offence. This has again been done in keeping with our philosophy of transparency.

Rolling out digital measurement was announced by you in a Hong Kong conference almost two years back. What has held back the rollout so far?

Third party digital viewership measurement has never been attempted in India. In fact, some of the products we are launching are a global first. Also, we are a JIC, which takes a 360 degree feedback from all its stakeholders. We had to first understand the industry needs and then design services accordingly. That apart, consumption pattern in India is very different from what exists globally. This only makes the task more challenging. We wanted to come out with a product that is robust and meets everyone’s needs.
It is important to understand that nowhere in the world have these kind of services been launched in less than at least four to five years. They are still evolving. In fact, we are being extremely ambitious when we say 18-24 months roll out of all products, which will start in a phased manner from 2017 onwards.
Did the digital measurement rollout get entangled in lack of consensus amongst various stakeholders and plain industry politics?

Frankly, I do not feel that there has been any unjustifiable delay. We have a digital technical committee, just like for TV. We went to several countries to understand digital measurement in those markets. Also, we had to set up a new digital team from scratch. We have invested a lot of time in understanding the needs of the industry and setting up a team which could give us the best product. We always wanted to come up with a product, which is as strong as our TV measurement. As regards consensus, I guess we are the only JIC in a major country, which has digital publishers, platforms and broadcasters on the same table, taking consensus decisions.

What lessons have you and the organization learnt in these two years of operation in a complex, but diversified and a big market like India?

Learning has been a continuous process and we still learn every single day from the market. What we have understood is that nothing here is permanent. Someone might be happy with the data released this week and the same person might be upset the next week as he might feel the data isn’t in his favour. I, frankly, don’t blame them. Our subscribers have been used to seeing data with hardly any variation, for years. Now, when we capture data from more number of panel homes, use better and advanced technology to monitor and measure data, the data is bound to faithfully fluctuate, which arises out of normal human behavior. This does not mean our data is not accurate, but it shows that we are capturing what India is watching.

To give an example, in months when Indian kids are busy preparing for exams or are giving exams, kids’ genre (ratings) is bound to fall. This picks up again from March onwards when the vacation season kicks in. Our data captures such nuances and changes. Not just this, take, for instance, total TV viewership in the country. Instances of heat waves and power cuts across the country from March onwards leads to a drop in TV viewership --- when compared to the October-December period. This has been a trend for long and this education is an ongoing task for us.  
Personally you have held a view that TV is far from dead despite digital’s impressive march. What gives you so much of conviction?

Look at advertising expenditures. Yes, digital is growing, but TV remains the most important medium for advertisers to get eyeballs.

Talking of statistics, while more people are moving to digital, TV with 64 per cent penetration contributes to almost 45 per cent of ad revenue. Not just this, print, even today, contributes to 30 per cent of ad revenue and this happens only in India. With penetration of TV increasing in the next few years, its contribution to ad revenue will only go up and so, while digital is a significant contributor, it is still a small base and thus would take a while for any such tectonic shift to happen in India. 

India is an under-marketed country with the ad:GDP ratio of 0.38 per cent, while the global averages are 0.7 per cent. Countries like China and Brazil have 0.46 per cent and 1.02 per cent, respectively. Good measurement being one of the drivers, I feel advertising spends will increase in India substantially and all mediums will grow, led by TV and digital.

How much of growth in TV viewership do you foresee in the short to medium term of one to three years? What will fuel this growth --- rise of multi-TV homes in rural areas or simple one-TV homes coming under the measurement radar and, thus, increasing the total number of TV HHs in India?

As of 2016, India boasts of 183 million TV households, a 19 per cent growth from 2015. Sixteen years ago, one-third of Indian households had TV, but today close to two-thirds of households own TV. These figures will only go up in the coming years, led by rural. Of the 183 million TV households, rural contributes to 99 million homes, but its TV penetration remains at 52 per cent. This leaves huge headroom for growth.

Multi-TV homes in the country today stands at 3.4 per cent of total TV homes. Increase in TV homes will also be driven by this.

Our Broadcast India 2016 survey shows a drop of 19 per cent in NCCS D/E. This means that people are moving up the affluence chain. The relative share of NCCS `A’ homes has also come down due to the rise of nuclear families. This has led to growth in NCCS `B’ and `C’ homes, and, thus, increase in TV homes. Such phenomena of nuclear families will increase in the future, leading to further growth in NCCS `B’ and `C’ as well as TV homes. Hence, overall, we still feel there is big headroom for TV growth still. 
BARC India was supposed to have been in talks with DTH operators for return path data to boost data generation. What’s the status of that proposal?

Yes, we are in talks with a number of DTH and MSOs. We should be making some announcement on this front soon. These are complex solutions and some of them will be world firsts.
What are some other initiatives being planned by BARC in the short term to bring more robustness in its data generation?

Expansion of panel size will help build higher degree of accuracy in our data. The RPD initiative is also aimed at the same objective. Annual universe updates will allow us to map changes on the ground, and that will reflect in accuracy of the data as well.
Will the technology and the methodology used be future proof?

Yes. In fact, the reason we chose to use unique audio watermarking technology in the first place was to ensure that it is future-ready. BARC India system captures data about TV content consumed through any form of distribution --- terrestrial, DTH, analog cable, digital cable and digital.
Would BARC look at STB-embedded software rather than a separate meter to counter attempts at hacking and manipulations? Sign-ins could be like in Netflix where profiles sign in and tracking/recommendations happen based on profile of user.

Our tie-ups with DTH operators and MSOs for RPD are an attempt to do this. This will not only increase the number of sample panel homes, but will also make infiltration efforts ineffective. We will innovate more with our meter technology to make it as much hack-proof as possible.
With the movement towards handset consumption of video growing, what tech is BARC looking at monitoring such trends? When would the rollout happen and who’d fund it? 

EKAM Pulse, the first digital product will be rolled out by this year. EKAM Pulse will allow granular level ad campaign measurement. It will measure reach of ad campaigns at multiple levels of an ad campaign. Some of the metrics it will provide are unique reach, frequency, on-target percentage and demography by geography. The other digital products will be rolled out in a phased manner in the next 18-24 months. All these products will be funded by BARC India.
Do you see BARC working with clients just as the former TAM is with Tata Sky to offer them viewing solutions?


With AI coming in, how do you see that being put to viewership enhancement/tracking/recommendation and how do you see BARC reacting/using it, if at all?

We have already deployed AI at two levels. One at the panel level, which is then extrapolated to know TV viewing habits of TV universe and the other that helps us track any aberration in the viewing pattern of our panel. We use technology in a big way and are looking to move all our applications to the big data environment and accessible through cloud to make us future ready. 
Is BARC contemplating measurement of radio listenership?

Not as of now. The radio industry should be able to support the cost of measurement to make it viable for any player.

What would be your message to the industry, players, the regulator and the government on the occasion of BARC India’s second anniversary?

The industry has been very supportive in the last two years and we hope that it would continue to offer its support. In fact, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all our stakeholders and subscribers. 

One point that I would like to raise is that factors like analog switch offs in Phase IV (of digitization), TRAI order(s) and seasonal swings will continue to impact TV viewership. However, we would like the industry to understand these on-ground changes before questioning the flux in data. While the MIB mandate is to increase the panel size by 10k each year, till our fourth year of operation, we are aiming at multi-fold increase. We would like the industry to come together and support us to achieve this target. 

On April 29, Broadcast Audience Research Council India (BARC India, in short) completed two years of officially publishing data to the industry. For Partho Dasgupta, CEO, BARC India and his team, it’s been a busy two years having made rapid strides – going rural, buying out rival TAM and merging its metres thereby leapfrogging its metre base and eliminating competition and working towards an integrated television-cum-digital measurement, a significant change in the Universe, and more.

Excerpts from an interview with Partho Dasgupta:

Two years is a big milestone. If you were to sum up the second year (of data going live, that is), what would it be?
It has been a fantastic year with a lot of learnings. In October 2016, we completed one year of our All India data release, which has allowed us to extract some very interesting viewership trends.

We knew that TV viewing in India responds to various stimuli, internal and external. We now see linkage with seasonality, and this insight helps us answer quite a few queries with regard to actual viewership behaviour in the country.

We are now two years’ old and the learning curve has helped us better understand pain points of the industry. We are delighted about our journey so far and have our plans set for the next two years as well :)
In a country which rejoices and celebrates with every milestone, why the quiet second anniversary?

We are a close-knit company that believes in celebrating each milestone we achieve with our employees. It’s important to be low-key in our already hyper active media world.
I know this is a question that’s best asked to your subscribers, but would you say data has stabilised?

I have always said this and I am sure now most of our subscribers will agree with my thought. Our data is representative of ground reality. We were always robust and stable, and we still are. Also since the landscape is dynamic and we have to recalibrate ourselves to make the data more accurate, there may be some disruptions in the short term. Take, for instance, our new Universe Estimate. Yes, a lot has changed from the time we introduced the new UE, but how long will we trade on data based on a survey done in 2013? The industry understands this and has welcomed the move.
I still find some long tail, niche channels complaining that the data isn’t stable. Comments.

In almost all countries across the world, niche channels are not reported and analysed the way we do in India. We have time and again proposed that niche channels should look at data which is based over longer period and large TG base. This is solely because, niche channels due to their small viewership base will have relative error much higher than any mass channel.

Post our Universe Update, genres including niche, have seen huge growth in viewership. This is also in sync with the ground reality of more homes moving up the socio-economic ladder, digitisation leading to greater sampling of the larger number of channels available to the viewer, growth coming from Tier 2 and 3 towns etc. Look at the number of kids going to English medium schools. Close to 60% of households in the top Socio-Economic group prefer English as a medium of education for their children. Not just this, over the last five years, the number of schools in India imparting education in English has doubled. India is changing and this is reflected in our data as well.

As we expand our panel homes size, and move towards incorporating Return Path Data (RPD) from digital distribution platforms, the data will get progressively more robust.
Now that you’ve seen data trends closely over two years, would you say that there are some quirks in the data that people aren’t reading well enough? For instance seasonality, weather conditions etc?

The industry had been used to reading data in a certain way and with us this has changed. Larger sample size, more number of towns, better representation of TV homes, use of audio watermarking technology etc ensures that we capture the slightest of change in viewership habit. This leads to a bit of flux, but that is the reality. Consider this: January-February are the months when school kids are busy preparing for exams, kids genre viewership drops in this period. Come March-April, and viewership peaks. This is because, it is this time that vacation season kicks in.

Another important trend that we have noticed is that viewership is inversely proportional to weather changes. To understand this point, we looked at the UP market, where as weather peaked, viewership in primetime (7-11pm) dipped. What this meant was as mercury rose in the day, people in the state moved their chores to cooler evenings, thus staying out of home leading to drop in viewership. It can also be attributed to increased powercuts in summer. Our data picks up these Seasonal Swings in TV viewership.

Other instances are Election and Budget seasons. News genre grows in this period, and that also impacts viewership of other genres. There are many such examples that I could give to show how both content and external factors like heat waves, vacation, powercuts etc. play an important role in viewership coupled with the telecom connectivity issues we have in India.
Are you happy with the way data is being used by subscribers? We’ve seen frequent complaints to ASCI by a few news channels…

When we started operations, we realised that the data was being sliced and diced to claim leadership. We come up with guidelines that puts reasonable limits on the way the data can be publicly reported. While many follow the guidelines, those who don’t can be reported to ASCI.
You have undertaken a significant redefining of the data. How has the transition been?

Contrary to what many had expected, the transition has been very smooth. This can be attributed to the fact that the industry was sensitised about the changing landscape and the impact it has on viewership much before we implemented the Universe change. The Industry has been very supportive.
A word on rural which has now been around for over a year. Other than broadcasters, would you say it has fuelled the rural economy and made brand managers change the way they look at rural India?

Including rural viewership has been a great eyeopener. Rural so far was being ignored as many thought it wasn’t yielding any viewership. But look at what it has done to the TV landscape. The increase in number of Free To Air (FTA) channels, growth of Freedish, increase in number of advertisements on FTA channels among other things.

Talking of statistics, we have seen a 13% rise in the number of advertisers on rural focused channels. The biggest spike was seen in Hindi Speaking Markets (HSM) channels. From a 31% share of total advertising, the share of FTA rose to 39%.

With around 38% of rural population forming the affluent base (NCCS A & B) and 47% of total rural population in the age group of 15-40 years, it is they who form the belly of rural viewership. This shows that going forward, any premium or high end product targeting need not necessarily be limited to urban anymore.
The announcement on Ekam has been well-received. But the big integrated deck is a long way off. Given the way the digital world is changing, how easy will it be for you to adapt to a new environment/tech platform, if any?

We are excited about launching digital measurement in the country. We will be using not one but different methodologies to measure digital consumption on different platforms with the help of Industry constituents. Like in TV, even in digital, the technology we use will be futureproof.
Is the integration of TAM in the BARC complete?

We have successfully formed the meter company, a joint venture of BARC India and TAM. The company is fully functional now and is working on integrating the TAM meters in BARC India sample homes.
One last question: if you were given an option to relive Year 2, what would you change given the developments that happened?
We have set up the BARC Disciplinary Committee, are working towards increasing the sample homes by tying up with DTH and digital cable players using Return Path Data and revising our contracts with broadcasters which clearly defines the clauses of code of conduct. All this will be a major step in our fight towards curbing malpractices like panel infiltration. These are reactive steps to what happened last year. We should have started work on all of this in the second year of operations.
By Partho Dasgupta

Growing affluence across India has also brought about an important social change: an increase in nuclear families, the single-biggest change that has influenced the ownership and viewing habits of India’s growing TV universe.

This fact came out of a Broadcast Audience Research Council (Barc) study that covered 3,00,000 homes, 590 districts and 4,300 towns and villages with an overall 66% urban coverage.

From 153 million TV households in 2015, the Broadcast India study recorded a 19% increase to 183 million TV households. The critical difference is that while the absolute number of TV households may have grown, the number of TV individuals increased only by 16%, from 674 million to 780 million, during the period.

Sixteen years ago, one-third of Indian households had TVs. Today, close to two-thirds of households own TV sets. Two factors need to be looked at

One, 96.5% of these 183 million are single-TV households. This conveys that affluence may have led to the purchase of other consumer durables than opting to purchase a second TV.

The unique Indian habit of the entire family sitting together prevails. Two, urban India may have 84 million of the total 183 million TV households, with a penetration of close to 87%. But rural India has overtaken it with 99 million TV households, even as TV penetration remains 52%.

This points to an opportunity for exponential growth in the coming years. Interestingly, it is the pre-youth segment (15-21years) where TV individuals have increased by 13%.

The study also shows changes in demographic trends according to Barc’s New Consumer Classification System (NCCS).

Across India, NCCS D and E homes (classified according to urban socioeconomic segments) shrunk by 19%. Which means people are moving up the affluence chain. The relative share of NCCS A homes has also come down due to the rise of nuclear families.

Which is why TV has grown faster in NCCS B and NCCS C homes as these middle-class households have increased at a faster pace compared to others.

As the TV universe has grown, the type of connections households have has also changed. Largely a terrestrial and analogue cable-led country, the advent of digitisation has seen direct-to-home (DTH) take a 35% market share, while digital cable has 23%.

Analogue cable still stands at 40% of the total TV households and terrestrial has significantly reduced to 2% market share. Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, with the highest growth (59%) in TV individuals, have seen this spurt be cause of the huge improvement in infrastructure like power.

According to the National Family Health Survey 2015-16, close to 90% of households in MP have electricity.

The contribution of good power supply is critical. Indians’ love for entertainment is something known globally, the reason why some of the lower-strata NCCS D and E homes have access to TV. In fact, while three in 10 NCCS D and E homes have a TV set, only two in 10 NCCS D and E homes have gas stoves.

While close to all NCCS A homes have a TV, of the other durables, only 20% households have air-conditioners, 62% have washing machines, and 92% have refrigerators — a figure that is still less than TV ownership. India is changing fast and the pace will increase in the coming years.

Here is what one can see happening in the very near future after gleaning facts from the Barc study: 100% digitisation of TV households; rising disposable incomes and expanding middle class ensuring that durables keep growing and households will move across the NCCS; propensity to consume will increase; urban TV penetration will slowly grow; and rural TV penetration will rise multifold.

It may be time to put to rest the myth of media-dark rural India. A perspective from BARC’s Partho Dasgupta

Close to 344 million Indians have been watching television in rural areas for the last few years but no one had an idea what exactly they were watching. This changed in 2013, when Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC), an industry body to design, commission, supervise and own an accurate reliable and timely television audience measurement system for India was set up.

From the day the first rural data from BARC came out in October 2015 till today, with close to 16 months of measurement, the data from 76 million TV households is robust enough to initiate a strategy change for all the stakeholders. Take the advertising industry. A number of things changed.

We have seen a 13% rise in the number of advertisers on rural focused channels. The biggest spike was seen in Hindi Speaking Markets (HSM) channels. A huge spike was also observed across the Free to Air (FTA) channels. From a 31% share of total advertising, FTA share rose to 39%. Some of the larger beneficiaries were Sony Pal, Star Utsav, Zee Anmol, DD Rajasthan, DD Madhya Pradesh among others.

The top three categories which have significantly increased advertising on TV were auto tyres (81% growth), DTH service providers (44%) and detergent cakes / bars (34%). Some of the top brands which increased their Free Commercial Time (FCT) on the top four FTA GECs were Ponds India, Reckitt Benkiser, Dabur, Godrej Consumer products Ltd, ITC and Nestle.

The above data gave a deep insight into an area which is critically important to the advertising community, especially the FMCG sector who are heavily dependent on rural consumption.

One of the new factors that BARC brought in was the NCCS (New consumer classification system) as a basis of measurement. And as much as 38 million of the 76 million households of the rural population form the affluent base (NCCS A & B individuals). So any premium / high end product, targeting need not be limited to urban anymore.

The stupendous numbers that sports like the Pro-Kabaddi League (PKL), Pro Wrestling League (PEL) and even the Indian Soccer League (ISL) have been enjoying is because of the eyeballs that come from rural India. The PKL and PWL get as much as 65% and 64% of total viewership from rural India. Even soccer ISL gets nearly half (49%) of its viewership from rural India.

For those investing in growing these leagues and sports as well as broadcasters and advertisers, this data came as quite a shocker. No one had expected these numbers because no one had been measuring rural India viewership so far.

While sports has been the game changer, the GEC’s viewership perspective is also different from urban viewing. While rural viewers love their daily dose of soaps the only show that goes as a hit across rural and urban is Naagin from the Colors stable while the romance of Jodha and Akbar from Zee also woos the eyeballs, the family value centric Saath Nibhana Saathia from Star Utsav has hit a home run. Even the children’s program Bal Veer from Sony Pal has attracted some good numbers from children. News watching is pretty active in rural India giving a spike in numbers for the news channels. For example, news viewership spiked by 54% during demonetisation week. In terms of daily TV viewing, rural India, in fact spends around close to three hours and 10 minutes watching TV daily. Rural South tops the list with audiences in Andhra Pradesh watching about 4 hours 4 minutes of daily TV viewing the highest so far.

If there is one thing that binds both urban and rural it is cinema. So a Salman Khan or Shahrukh Khan film, be it Prem Ratan Dhan Payo or Dilwale, or the magnum opus Bahubali, each was viewed by as many as 24 million in rural India making the three the biggest hits across rural markets.

More people watch one TV set in rural India as compared to urban India where there could be more than one TV set in a single house. Around 98% of the homes in rural are single TV HHs still where the entire family watches content together.

Yet, there is still a lot of headroom for growth. In the coming years, rural data will play a more significant role for the entire ecosystem. As per the latest Broadcast study conducted by BARC, TV individuals in rural have increased by 23% from 344 million to close to 422 million. What’s more interesting is that the young ‘Bharat’ (15-40 years) forms the mainstay of the rural viewership with as much as 47% of the total rural population watching TV. With urban TV penetration slowing down, the next phase of exponential growth is set to come from rural India. This is because in spite of the fast growth, TV penetration in rural still stands at 54% of the total rural HHs.

In a nutshell, rural India has made inroads into the Total TV viewership and is slated to make a significant impact in the coming years.


India’s premier television ratings agency, the Broadcast India Research Council, or Barc India, played an important role in broadcasting in 2016. However, its plans for 2017 are bigger. The agency, which launched TV viewership data in 2015, is already on its way to scale up the size of its panels (the households it tracks) to 30,000 from the current 20,000. Barc India chief executive Partho Dasgupta says the intention is to increase the number of panel homes beyond the mandated 30,000 in 2017 itself, provided the move is supported by all stakeholders.
The agency will also release the Broadcast India Survey soon. This is Barc’s own primary establishment survey, a universe estimation study for which it commissioned research firm Nielsen. The survey was carried out between November 2015 and February 2016. The survey covers nearly 300,000 respondents, across 590 districts and approximately 4,300 towns. It captures data on TV ownership, connection type, language preferences and other media consumption habits.
Dasgupta shares some of the survey highlights. According to him, at the household level, the New Consumer Classification System (NCCS) D and E has seen a 19% drop, while NCCS A, B and C have grown. (NCCS or New Consumer Classification System replaced the older SEC or socioeconomic classification in 2014). The study shows nuclear families, without elders, are on the rise. The family size too has reduced from 4.39 in 2015 to 4.15 in 2016. In fact, the average family size even in TV-owning households of rural India is shrinking. As per the Indian Readership Survey 2013, the average family size in rural India was 4.71 compared to 4.63 now.
The new survey also points to a significant increase in number of TV homes: TV owning homes in India have gone up from 153.5 million to 183 million. That is not all. Rural India has 17% more TV owning households than urban India. The urban-rural split in terms of percentage of TV penetration has changed from 49:51 to 46:54.
When it was set up, Barc had used the Census 2011 and the Indian Readership Survey 2013 data to decide on the 20,000 panel homes. But to expand its panel size now, it will use the findings of the Broadcast India Survey. This will help it understand the changing profile of TV viewers and make the sample more representative. In fact, 2016 was an eye opener in terms of rural viewership. Though the industry was exposed to rural ratings from October 2015, clear trends in rural viewership emerged last year. To be sure, TV viewership as a whole has seen a rise since Barc India started measuring TV viewing habits. “This can be attributed to rise in the number of channels in each genre as well as increase in Average Time Spent (ATS) by viewers on TV,” points out Dasgupta.
A comparison of TV viewership data in week 41 of 2015 versus week 41 of 2016 shows that TV impressions in India have gone up by 24%—18% in urban and 30% in rural India. Not just this, even the average time spent has seen a jump of 21%—17% in urban India and 26% in rural. Soaps followed by film-based programmes are a hit among rural audiences.
“This trend remains the same across all zones with the exception of South. Viewership for serials is driven majorly by the North zone while film-based programmes have the maximum viewership in the South zone,” says Dasgupta.
Different TV genres also saw a spike in viewership in 2016. For instance, English general entertainment grew by an impressive 187% (week 41, 2015 versus week 41, 2016) while Hindi and English News grew 81% and 54%, respectively. Even sports, movies and other regional genres saw a spike in TV viewership.
2017 will pave the way for measurement of digital viewership. Barc India is rolling out its pilot study for the purpose which should be ready for a phased launch beginning this year. “We will start first with digital video ads across personal computers, mobiles and tablets and then look to add content later in the year,” says Dasgupta.
Last but not least, in 2016, Barc floated a Request for Proposal to create a pool of firms that would provide consultancy service to its subscribers. “We will be materializing this in 2017. This would mean that our subscribers, particularly broadcasters, through the help of these consulting firms, will be able to analyse Barc India data which in turn would help them work on their content strategy,” says Dasgupta.
The agency decided to take this step as information and broadcasting ministry guidelines prohibit it from involving itself in any advisory role. The plan is to create a small pool of approved consulting companies from which Barc subscribers can choose.
India’s premier television ratings agency, the Broadcast India Research Council, or Barc India, played an important role in broadcasting in 2016. However, its plans for 2017 are bigger. The agency, which launched TV viewership data in 2015, is already on its way to scale up the size of its panels (the households it tracks) to 30,000 from the current 20,000. Barc India chief executive Partho Dasgupta says the intention is to increase the number of panel homes beyond the mandated 30,000 in 2017 itself, provided the move is supported by all stakeholders.
The agency will also release the Broadcast India Survey soon. This is Barc’s own primary establishment survey, a universe estimation study for which it commissioned research firm Nielsen. The survey was carried out between November 2015 and February 2016. The survey covers nearly 300,000 respondents, across 590 districts and approximately 4,300 towns. It captures data on TV ownership, connection type, language preferences and other media consumption habits.
Dasgupta shares some of the survey highlights. According to him, at the household level, the New Consumer Classification System (NCCS) D and E has seen a 19% drop, while NCCS A, B and C have grown. (NCCS or New Consumer Classification System replaced the older SEC or socioeconomic classification in 2014). The study shows nuclear families, without elders, are on the rise. The family size too has reduced from 4.39 in 2015 to 4.15 in 2016. In fact, the average family size even in TV-owning households of rural India is shrinking. As per the Indian Readership Survey 2013, the average family size in rural India was 4.71 compared to 4.63 now.
The new survey also points to a significant increase in number of TV homes: TV owning homes in India have gone up from 153.5 million to 183 million. That is not all. Rural India has 17% more TV owning households than urban India. The urban-rural split in terms of percentage of TV penetration has changed from 49:51 to 46:54.
When it was set up, Barc had used the Census 2011 and the Indian Readership Survey 2013 data to decide on the 20,000 panel homes. But to expand its panel size now, it will use the findings of the Broadcast India Survey. This will help it understand the changing profile of TV viewers and make the sample more representative. In fact, 2016 was an eye opener in terms of rural viewership. Though the industry was exposed to rural ratings from October 2015, clear trends in rural viewership emerged last year. To be sure, TV viewership as a whole has seen a rise since Barc India started measuring TV viewing habits. “This can be attributed to rise in the number of channels in each genre as well as increase in Average Time Spent (ATS) by viewers on TV,” points out Dasgupta.
A comparison of TV viewership data in week 41 of 2015 versus week 41 of 2016 shows that TV impressions in India have gone up by 24%—18% in urban and 30% in rural India. Not just this, even the average time spent has seen a jump of 21%—17% in urban India and 26% in rural. Soaps followed by film-based programmes are a hit among rural audiences.
“This trend remains the same across all zones with the exception of South. Viewership for serials is driven majorly by the North zone while film-based programmes have the maximum viewership in the South zone,” says Dasgupta.
Different TV genres also saw a spike in viewership in 2016. For instance, English general entertainment grew by an impressive 187% (week 41, 2015 versus week 41, 2016) while Hindi and English News grew 81% and 54%, respectively. Even sports, movies and other regional genres saw a spike in TV viewership.
2017 will pave the way for measurement of digital viewership. Barc India is rolling out its pilot study for the purpose which should be ready for a phased launch beginning this year. “We will start first with digital video ads across personal computers, mobiles and tablets and then look to add content later in the year,” says Dasgupta.
Last but not least, in 2016, Barc floated a Request for Proposal to create a pool of firms that would provide consultancy service to its subscribers. “We will be materializing this in 2017. This would mean that our subscribers, particularly broadcasters, through the help of these consulting firms, will be able to analyse Barc India data which in turn would help them work on their content strategy,” says Dasgupta.
The agency decided to take this step as information and broadcasting ministry guidelines prohibit it from involving itself in any advisory role. The plan is to create a small pool of approved consulting companies from which Barc subscribers can choose.
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 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 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 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

Partho Dasgupta

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.


Forward looking

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.


Gender equality

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 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.

Partho Dasgupta

Partho Dasgupta

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
Raj Nayak or Sudhanshu Vats for Colors and/or Viacom18: Yes, but not of the level that would put it ahead of our winner
Joseph George 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
CVL Srinivas 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.
Ashish Bhasin 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.
Arnab Goswami:  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

Punit Goenka

Shashi Sinha

Partho Dasgupta
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:

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.”
Changing dynamics
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

Kyoorius Melt

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.

Sir Martin Sorrell

Sir Martin Sorrell

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 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 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