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February 29: RIP TAM Ratings

The curtains have finally come down on TAM ratings, marking the end of an era. The television audience measurement baton is now firmly in the hands of BARC India. How do industry seniors see the scenario ahead? What does TAM have to say?

Raushni Bhagia | Mumbai | March 7, 2016

TAM-BARC

On February 29 the curtains finally came down TAM ratings. In many ways it was the end of an era as TAM India’s twelve-year-long journey in television audience measurement became a chapter in the history of India’s broadcast industry as the baton of audience measurement now was fully in the hands of Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC).

While BARC is a joint initiative of three industry bodies – Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF), Indian Society of Advertisers (ISA) and the Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI) – the people meters infrastructure of TAM India will henceforth boost the infrastructure at the disposal of BARC India in its journey ahead.

BARC India and TAM India recently launched their joint venture with the formation of a meter management company. This new entity, Meterology Data Pvt Ltd (MDL), commenced soon after. As part of the new system, all TAM India meters will be redeployed in panel homes selected by BARC India’s sample design. This JV will help BARC India grow its sample size. In MDL, BARC India has full management control with a 51 per cent stake, while TAM India – which includes Nielsen and Kantar – will have 49 per cent stake.

Shashi Sinha Shashi Sinha

Shashi Sinha, CEO, IPG Mediabrands, who also heads the BARC Technical Committee, said, “Yes, TAM India has serviced the industry for a long time, but now it’s BARC’s turn. BARC has become the new currency since April last year and it is expected to be a stronger and more accepted one as it is run by industry stakeholders.”

From a mere few hundred crores of rupees when TAM ratings were launched, the television industry had grown to become a Rs 15,400-crore advertising market in 2014 (FICCI-KPMG Report).

Ashish Bhasin Ashish Bhasin

Ashish Bhasin, CEO, Dentsu Communication, appreciated TAM India for providing a great service all these years and clearing the air when there were two measurement systems – TAM and INTAM. He said, “It slowly evolved into a consistent measurement service with industry support. The next phase of measurement, BARC, is also very important as the people meters and TAM’s experience will be used by BARC India. There had been issues with TAM India as it was accused of manipulation of data and of monopoly, but everything balanced out and TAM India continued for over a decade.”

TAM India, too, was initially supported by a joint industry body (JIB). However, the accusation that the company had become an unresponsive monopoly grew in recent times. Only time will tell whether BARC India is able to avoid falling into the same trap.

Bhasin felt that the fear of BARC becoming a monopolistic body is very little. “I don’t think this will happen because it is not a privately owned body unlike TAM India. I am sure that the stakeholders involved in the formation of BARC will keep doing the internal checks and analysis of the data and measurement system to avoid a monopoly situation.”

It is generally accepted that technically and algorithmically, BARC India is a more evolved version of audience measurement. But the expertise of TAM India will be of great importance to the working of BARC India.

Partho Dasgupta Partho Dasgupta

Partho Dasgupta, CEO, BARC India, said, “The industry was looking for a single TV viewership measurement currency to avoid confusion. The move will also ensure that industry benefits from this single currency which is created and owned by them.”

Dasgupta added, “TAM was using its people meters till last week. The meters will now be de-installed in phases around the country. After that, these meters will be redeployed in BARC’s selected panel homes. The process is likely to be completed in the current year.”

The view from TAM India

LV Krishnan LV Krishnan

LV Krishnan, CEO, TAM Media Research, was categorical that TAM India is very much alive and will play a strong role in BARC’s growth in the measurement business. He said, “TAM is a JV partner with BARC in a new corporate entity. TAM is helping BARC and the industry get a larger sample base along with a rich archive of historic viewership data of a decade and a half. The noticeable change is that no longer TV viewership data will be retailed out under the brand name of TAM. TAM will continue to provide all other services to the industry – Radio Audience Measurement data (RAM), Advertising (ADEX) data on TV, Print, Radio, Eikona PR Measurement, Sports Research, In Program Branded Content Research, Movie Trailers and Music monitoring, News Content Tracking, and a host of new services will be launching soon.”

Outlining the top ten contributions of TAM, Krishnan said, “Having said that, TAM’s 15 years of industry service bring to the fore the following key milestones:

1) Before TAM set up India’s TV viewership service in 1998, the TV advertising industry size was around Rs 1,500 crore. Aided by TAM’s scientific data, the advertiser base grew over the years and today, the total investment has multiplied by 12 times and stands close to Rs 17,000 crore;

2) In the year 2000, the industry had less than 100 TV channels getting reported. Today, the number touches close to over 850. The presence of continuous measurement in TV, unlike in other media, helped advertisers and investors to have confidence in the TV industry and help the growth in the base of TV channels unabatedly;

3) As the industry saw initial set of audience fragmenting into content from unique genre channels, TAM gave industry users in 2008 an insight into behaviour patterns of an elite set of TV audience through an Elite Panel Sample, which later got merged with digital TV viewing data as DTH gained ground;

4) Well before the industry started working and implementing DTH and DAS facility for the TV consumer, TAM gave the TV broadcast and advertising industry its first glimpse into the world of TV digitisation by rolling out the first set of digital TV data in 2008. This came along with the announcement of TAM’s preparedness to measure TV digitisation through its advanced digital people meter initiative called TVM5;

5) In 2012, TAM worked very closely with the industry stakeholders and helped the entire set of data users to understand the transition of TV audience changing behaviour thru DAS & DTH phase in a digital TV world;

6) TAM’s data ensured the acceptance and establishment of big-ticket reality shows like KBC, IPL T20 cricket, and other sports like Pro-Kabaddi. Without measurement and scientific data, this would not have been possible;

7) TAM TV Viewing data played a key role towards the grand success and growth of stars like Big B from big to small screen;

8) During the last five years, new Hindi general entertainment channels were launched. Without measurement, would we have known of them getting established as prominent players in the audience’s mind?

9) Would the industry have known how the women audience lapped up unconventional sporting properties of cricket and football? TAM data of IPL, FIFA, etc., provided broadcasters and advertisers about this insight;

10) Without measurement, none would have realised the potential and growth of regional TV channels in India and the dynamics and difference in viewership between small and big towns.”

Defending TAM against the charge of having become a monopoly, Krishnan explained, “Though we still do not know why, but somewhere midway in our 17 years of industry service, we started getting termed as a monopoly by the media. This has always confused us because for us at TAM, ever since our creation, TAM always had competition in some form or the other all the way and has never shied from competing effectively in the marketplace. TAM’s focused objective has always been to create robust weekly data and bring fresh TV audience perspective to nurture growth of the Indian TV broadcast and advertising industry.”

He added, “Thanks to all our past and present family of TAM employees and our valued subscribers, we have gone about doing our job very well irrespective of tags attached to us by the media. Our goal was to play a silent but very effective key role in the growth of the industry both in terms of numbers as well as its stature. We believe we have done that in a small way.”

On TAM’s expertise and talent pool, Krishnan said, “TAM’s talent is a major attraction for employers across broadcasters, agencies and advertisers. Our passion for constant talent improvement and offering the best of data and perspective to the industry has led to the creation of a rich talent pool across its departments and functions. No wonder then, in the past as well as in the future, our employees will continue to be a major attraction for employers. TAM is proud of its past team members too, who have been hired by client organisations over the years, and are continuously contributing to their current organization with amazing data analytical skills and action oriented insights. We feel they all have a bit of TAM still within them!”

Krishnan concluded, “We thank all for giving us an opportunity to do so. TAM’s future is even stronger than in the past and we will work continuously through innovations, collaborations and partnership with industry players to build new services for various industry sector users.”

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