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Onus on stakeholders to choose TVT over TVR: Partho Dasgupta

BARC India CEO talks on various issues ranging from impact to challenges to future plans, and a few contentious issues too. He feels that the paradigm shift brought by Rural data may lead to two primetimes, one for the hinterland and the other for urban audiences

BestMediaInfo Bureau | Delhi | October 30, 2015

Partho Dasgupta Partho Dasgupta

The Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC India) achieved yet another milestone within six months of launching its first data with the launch last week of rural data as part of its all-India data reporting. Although the rating agency under the leadership of its CEO Partho Dasgupta is on its way to meet crucial targets and demands of the Indian broadcast industry, it has many challenging tasks on hand in the days to come. caught up with Dasgupta to talk upon various issues ranging from impact to challenges to future plans, and a few contentious issues too. Excerpts:

How is the inclusion of Rural data in All-India ratings a milestone for BARC India, the broadcast industry and advertisers?

There is a sizeable part of Indian consumption which is rural. Both marketers/advertisers and broadcasters derive a lot of business from rural. There are product categories which make higher margins in rural areas than urban. A sizeable part of media spends go with a rural focus. Till date there was no accountability of these spends and there was a blind view on this part. With the introduction of rural data, this need gap is finally met. Ultimately information helps building insights and better decision making.

What surprises has the Rural data thrown up other than a few major changes in the leadership of channels across genres?

Nobody has seen rural viewership data before, to that extent it’s a new paradigm. For instance, rural India contributes to 44 per cent of ratings in the Music & Youth genre. In the English Entertainment genre, rural India contributes 41 per cent ratings. Of the total English News viewership, more than half (52 per cent) is by people who live in non-metros. These tie in perfectly to other studies which reflect the aspirational nature of rural and India beyond the big cities.

Not just this, rural India has younger audiences. 17 per cent of the viewers in rural India are in the age group of 15-21years vis-à-vis 14 per cent which are in urban. In the 15-40 years age group, rural contributes 55 per cent viewers compared with 52 per cent which urban India gives.

Two out of five audiences in rural fall in the NCCS AB category.

How is the Rural data going to change the future course of action for broadcasters? Will it increase focus in rural areas for all channels or a select few?

As mentioned earlier, there are genres like Music & Youth, English Entertainment and English News which have witnessed significant contributions from rural India. Broadcasters operating in these genres may want to look at these statistics and figure out if it needs any change.

Also, with rural India’s ‘Early to bed and early to rise’ philosophy one may see the conventional definition of primetime changing. The rural peak times are 5:30 PM to 10:30 PM vis-à-vis Urban peak time which is 6:30 PM to 11:30 PM. This may also lead to two primetimes, one for the hinterland and the other for urban audiences.  Now since they have the numbers to analyse for the first time, I am sure the focus across all stakeholders will increase.

Does the Rural data satisfy all the stakeholders including public broadcaster Doordarshan or do they still have concerns?

The feedback has been very positive.

The broadcast industry had faced ratings blackout periods in the past whenever such changes/inclusions were made to the existing rating system. Eg., addition of 5 LC1 areas in TAM ratings. Why is it that BARC India and some broadcasters did not feel the need for a ratings blackout while rolling out such a major change?

This can be attributed to our preparedness at the backend for the future.

It was our planned strategy to rollout data in phases and so we started with rolling out household data in April, which was followed by individual data in June, and now in October we rolled out the all-India data including Rural India.

While we released one set of data, we were testing the other, and this ensured that the industry did not have to go through any blackout during the transition.

The BARC India advisory calls for using ratings data in thousands only. Although the broadcasters are using ratings in 000s for advertising their ratings, rat% (TVR) is still being used frequently perhaps because BARC software delivers data in TVR. Why has BARC not been able to come out of the TVR grip? Do we see TVR being removed from the software system in near future?

BARC India is promoted by the stakeholders of the industry. If the board decides to use one metric over the other, we will be happy to provide the same. BARC has always been working with consensus on issues like these.

Inclusion of Rural data also marks six months of the launch of BARC ratings? How successfully has BARC ratings changed the market dynamics so far compared with the old rating regime?

The technology backbone of BARC India has ensured that fidelity of ratings is very high. Fidelity in ratings is a proof to the broadcasters that the changes they make in the programming reflect in the ratings, which is responsive. This helps them plan their programming strategy better. The Industry has also moved to the NCCS definition.

What more do we see in future from BARC India?

We are working towards:

  • Split beam measurement
  • Digital Measurements: Mobile, Tablets, OTT
  • Launch of new Universe Estimates
  • 30,000 panel homes by March 2016

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