Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC), the joint industry initiative that will commission market research for TV using appropriate research methodologies, has taken some time to get going. But as they say, it’s better late than never. The initial talks to institutionalise BARC took place in 2007 to resolve issues pertaining to TV measurement. However, it was this year (March 2012) that the formation of BARC was officially announced. Stakeholders of the newly formed body include the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF), Indian Society of Advertisers (ISA), and Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI). The IBF enjoys maximum stake of 60 per cent, while ISA and AAAI have 20 per cent stake each.
1Why BARC The industry has welcomed the introduction of BARC, for it means that the industry will have direct control of TV measurement, unlike a ‘monopolistic’ scenario with TAM operating as the only accepted currency of measurement. TAM, a non-industry body, has been criticised by stakeholders for not having the adequate sample size for a country as diverse as India, among other things. Investments in these have been inadequate, contend stakeholders. In a market where TV accounts for a huge share of the spend, lack of a robust measurement mechanism has been a cause of worry and debate. Meanwhile, special interest channels have been complaining of an inaccurate representation of the universe.
Tarun Katial, chief executive officer, Reliance Broadcast Network Limited (RBNL), shares his view on the BARC: “That BARC has been formed, is good news to the industry. I’m hoping that the technical committee at BARC comes up with a roadmap that will address each and every issue with TV measurement, right from the sample size to the methodology, proper representation of digital TV homes etc.”
On a specific concern which he wants BARC to look into, he says, “We need a rating platform that truly represents the base level of digital platforms. As a broadcaster, I’m on seven different DTH platforms and seven MSOs, each of these have different universal samples. That is critical information and our TV measurement must reflect that.” He further adds, “The industry could refer to the survey that is done by BARB (Broadcast Audience Research Body, UK).”
2Focus areas “There is no doubt that at this point in time we need a separate ratings system. We need a new research design with an expanded sample size, coverage and one which offers transparency around ratings,” says Arvind Sharma, chairman and chief executive officer, India Subcontinent, Leo Burnett and chairman, AAAI.
On what the immediate focus of BARC should be, Paritosh Joshi, strategist, India TV, is of the opinion that BARC should line up resources, develop objectives and establish an operational base before tactical tasks are assigned.”
3Taking a leaf out of BARB’s book BARC has been formulated on the lines of BARB. In the UK, BARB provides estimates of the number of people watching television. This includes, ‘which channels and programmes are being watched, when they are watched and the type of people who are viewing at a given time’. Viewing data is collected second-by-second and delivered on a minute-by-minute basis for channels received within the UK.
Viewing estimates are obtained from a panel of television owning private homes representing the behavior of 26 million TV households within the UK. The panel is selected to be representative of each ITV and BBC (distribution) region, with pre-determined sample sizes. Each home represents, on average, about 5,000 of the UK population. RSMB is responsible for producing the sample design, while the survey is conducted by Ipsos MORI, which has responsibility for contacting each household selected for the survey and conducting interviews.
Though it is not clear what kind of research design BARC will adopt, by all means, the industry is looking to learn from other countries where TV measurement is more organized and evolved. Experts believe that India is a market that has its own issues, so a complete adoption of the UK model may not be on the cards.
4Challenges and roadblocks According to broadcasters, the major challenge will be to cover all the broadcasting modes in the research: such as terrestrial, cable, satellite, DTH, and digital cable. Advertisers on the other hands are looking for a transparent and robust research which could give in-depth insights in the rapidly changing television landscape.
Industry experts have been quoted saying that it will take some time for the BARC to take full control of TV measurement in India. The advertisers are hoping that it will be sooner than later.
“We need a new research design with an expanded sample size, coverage and one which offers transparency around ratings”