Amid the alleged rampant use of landing page and dual or multiple logical channel numbers (LCN) under multiple genres to increase viewership, BARC India has for the first time flagged such malpractices in its weekly data.
Reporting the viewership data for the English news genre for Week 33 of 2018, BARC mentioned above the chart: “Certain channels in the genre are seeing higher growth in Week 33 2018 due to some on-ground changes.”
Week 33 witnessed the century’s worst floods in Kerala and former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s demise and people flocked to the news channels, resulting in a viewership growth of the genre. In the English news genre, CNN News18 registered a growth of 223% over the past four-week average. Republic TV clocked a 70% growth while India Today Television had shown a 66% growth. Times Now recorded a 56% increase and NDTV 24x7 witnessed a growth of 38%.
It may be recalled that such malpractices came to light with the launch of Republic TV when the News Broadcasters Association wrote to Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), accusing the channel of using multiple feeds under multiple genre. Later, Republic accused Times Now of resorting to the same practices.
Television measurement body BARC India always maintained that they measure viewership of channels on the basis of their unique Watermark ID, irrespective of the platform where the channel is available or the number of instances within the platform. “For channels having same watermark on more than one LCN, viewership gets aggregated and reported as a single channel and not multiple channels. BARC India neither monitors channel placements across the various DTH platforms/cable head-ends in the country, nor does it have the mandate to do so,” it had said when it was dragged in the issue.
When asked if BARC India will continue highlighting the landing page/multiple LCN in future also, BARC India CEO Partho Dasgupta told BestMediaInfo.com, “We are just giving an advisory that because of on-ground changes, some anomalies could be seen and hence, people should read the data keeping that in mind. It is impossible to tell the magnitude of the impact of the on-ground changes but we know about it through our on-ground monitoring. We will continue highlighting such changes if it is done in excess enough to impact the viewership in any genre.”
Supporting BARC India’s step to highlight the anomalies, a senior marketer went ahead saying, “It is important to know what we are reading in data. Whether and what we are paying for is the real genre audience or a landing/dual incidental non-core audience. Perhaps adding a bracket (L) will help call out the channels where landing-induced audience exists in order to read the data with caution.”