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Zee Melt 2018: Single third-party body with proper governance structure is best placed for RPD, says Debkumar Chakrabarti, TRAI

At a panel discussion on day one, there was an elaborate discussion on how RPD can boost TV measurement. The panel had a balanced participation from both broadcasters and distribution platform owners

On day one of Zee Melt 2018, a panel of experts sat down to discuss how return path data can help the television measurement grow across the globe.

On a day that was full of insightful sessions and workshops across industry domains, this panel brought its own share of insights. Zee Melt day one brought together ideas that connect marketing, communication and technology and the most valuable leaders and brand marketers from across the globe under one roof.

The panel on RPD was preceded by a keynote session on “How Return Path Data Will Turbo-Boost Television Audience Measurement Globally”, delivered by Ricardo Gomez-Insausti, Vice-President (Research), Numeris. It addressed the challenges faced by the Indian market for TV audience measurement and the global developments taking place in the measurement system.

The panel discussion had participation from Kaushik Kunal Das, Head Data Science & IT, Star India, Amit Arora (EVP, Indiacast), Arun Unni (Chief Content Officer, Tata Sky), Debkumar Chakrabarti (Principal Adviser (B&CS), TRAI), and Sanjay Jain (Group CTO, DEN Networks). The session was moderated by Vynsley Fernandes (Executive Director, Castle Media).

Chakrabarti, while presenting his opening remarks, stressed on the point that, “A single third-party body with proper governance structure is best placed to do RPD. BARC India, with its experience of panel-based TV measurement, is best placed to partner with DTH and cable platforms for RPD-based measurement. This will avoid confusion, give single comparable metric and thus give confidence to both advertisers and broadcasters. It has been the experience in other fields that multiple bodies can lead to conflict and confusion. Since, RPD is also sample-based (and not census), privacy concerns are naturally addressed.”

Supporting the same feeling, Arora of Indiacast said, “There is need for single agency for RPD, as it is only then that they will remain platform neutral. It is important that the institution using RPD is representative of the approximately 1100 players in the country.”

DEN Networks has already partnered with BARC India for RPD. As per Jain, the motivation for DEN to join hands with BARC India came from their need to go beyond just installing DEN STBs in their subscribers’ home. “We wanted insights into viewer behaviour to understand who is watching what. This data is important for us to be able to present the kind of content that consumers actually want,” said Jain.

Until BARC started sealing deals with the distribution platforms for RPD data, Tata Sky was the only company in India to really collect and use RPD for its business decisions. Unni from the company said, “It is not easy to get unbiased data from the ground, especially robust enough to make business decisions worth crores.”

Tata Sky also has realised the importance of increasing the panel home size. While they started RPD with 10,000 boxes, they have now upped it to 30,000. Unni also intimated that this might further increase to 40,000. “In India, considering the changing consumer profile, the choice of content changes. As a distribution platform, we are seeing a change in our consumer base every year and then, we have to relook at the sample so that it reflects these changes. We get information about our channels and even some others that are not even tracked by BARC,” added Unni. He further said that while Tata Sky has a panel size of 30,000, it is still representative of only 7-8% of Indian households.

“BARC India data can better represent the whole country. RPD is the lifeline and every decision taking place in the future will be based on this data. Changes in environment lead to consumer behaviour changes and it is fundamental to do business. It is helping us in understanding the scheduling of our own VOD services and even when we are contemplating to launch new languages,” he added.

Star India has already subscribed to the RPD data from Tata Sky. But they too agree that broad-basing the RPD panel would be the right way to move ahead. Das said, “For better targeting, we need to experiment. Currently, we do not have enough data that gives deep insights into consumer behaviour.”

He added, “What is more important is the non-data part, which means how you understand the raw data and how do you use it. The difference between OTT and linear is that in OTT you exactly know what the consumer is doing on your platform, it is a two-way pipe. In linear, the data is limited to samples that we get from different sources but the challenge is that none of them gives you a full picture. It is the story of an elephant in the room. What data gives us is an interesting view which can be cue for the larger inferences.”

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