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Media agencies divided on NBA’s monthly ratings proposal

The media planning fraternity does not seem to be comfortable with monthly ratings, but are open to the idea.

Pallavi Goorha Kashyup | Mumbai | September 13, 2011

The decision of the News Broadcasters Association (NBA) to move from weekly to monthly ratings for news channels in Hindi and English, both general and business news, announced on September 8, 2011, has become a debate in the industry. The switchover is expected to be implemented from October 2011. Eventually the monthly format is expected to be implemented for regional news channels as well.

Ashish Bhasin, Chairman India & CEO South East Asia, Aegis Media, which owns Carat and Posterscope, said, “No media professional will be happy about getting data less frequently. The news channels also have an issue, which we need to understand. Chasing TRPs often leads to sensationalism. However, there are ways other than research data to tackle that. I don’t think this is something on which we can have a direct ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. In my opinion, this is something all constituents need to sit across the table, discuss and arrive at a holistic solution.”

Anita Nayyar, CEO of Havas Media India, however does not think the move to monthly ratings will make much impact. She said, “It doesn’t impact us if we look at average ratings of 4-6 weeks in the case of news channels. If we look at GEC channels, it impacts us as ratings are much higher. If there is a major event, then we can always calculate ratings on weekly basis for news channels.”

TAM Media Research CEO LV Krishnan said, "While we at TAM do understand the NBA perspective, our suggestion is that it is important for NBA to first discuss their proposal with other industry bodies  like IBF, AAAI, ISA who use TAM too.”

Firmly opposed to monthly ratings, Navin Khemka, Executive VP, Zenith Optimedia, said, "I disagree with this move as viewership changes happen very quickly. In advertising, it's about big money decisions. If we look at viewership information after so many weeks, it will make no sense at all."

Khemka added, “I think this move will be absurd and it doesn’t make sense. News channels are grappling for eyeballs. NBA wants that channels should average out the content. The news channels need to get mature in the way they fight over breaking news.”

Shripad Kulkarni, CEO, Allied Media, prefers an enlarged sample size rather than moving away from weekly ratings. Said he, “The fact is that the stability of news channels is the least – a lot of fluctuation happens. One reason could be the small sample size, and the second is the very nature of the genre. I feel NBA should fund a bigger sample size among core news audiences and sort out the sample size issue and live with the reality instead of going to a monthly reporting format. We are all used to a weekly review of TV plans and it would be tough to single out news channels for a monthly review.”

The jury is still out, and a lot needs to be sorted out before NBA’s plan gets off the ground.

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