The viewership of OTT platforms is growing at a phenomenal pace. Digital media is soon expected to have an advertising expenditure of Rs 15,000 crore a year with OTT commanding revenue of around Rs 5,000 crore. But despite all the promise, the medium still lacks an independent audience measurement system.
Advertisers say the absence of a credible measurement currency could hamper the ad revenue growth of the medium given that international companies, including P&G and Unilever, have already started curtailing their budgets because of increased bot views.
Ekam was proposed to be one such measurement where the entire advertisers would have collaborated to form a universally accepted single system. But the project has been languishing for long now.
Last week, SonyLiv claimed that the recently ended FIFA World Cup attracted 70 million unique viewers on the OTT platform. A few months back, Hotstar had claimed a reach of 202 million viewers for IPL 11. However, there's no independent agency to collaborate these claims. And also, no details on viewership time spent are available. When asked how advertisers would corroborate the viewership claims of SonyLiv, Uday Sodhi, EVP and Head, Digital Businesses, Sony Pictures Networks India, said, “These numbers are comparable to viewership on any other OTT platforms.”
Hotstar, which earned around Rs 300 crore from IPL11, hopes for 100% growth in the next season but this growth would come only when advertisers have verified the numbers, say experts.
Gopa Kumar, EVP, Isobar, said, “It’s very difficult to comment on the data being claimed by either of the platforms. The assumption is that they would have managed to clock that audience but since there is no unified measurement system in place to attribute this data, it has to be taken with a pinch of salt. These platforms would have done independent studies to claim this numbers.”
OTT platforms would have 350 million viewers in India soon.
While comparison and analysis on these numbers are difficult, how does an advertiser understand that a certain platform will be more effective than the other?
Kumar said, “There is a need for single measurement data which industry can refer to; unfortunately it still has to see the light of the day in India. Till the time we have that, we will have to rely on the data being supplied by the platforms. At least, there is some data on which some hypothesis can be made. Everyone is trying to make do with whatever is available and make sense of this. Since big monies are increasingly being spent on these platforms, the need to supply and get verified data is not only essential for advertisers or brands but also for these platforms. They would need to invest in this.”
The industry leaders are now pushing for early implementation of Ekam so that the viewership measurement hurdle could rest forever.
"We hope that it would be in operation soon. The medium needs finer details. It can't grow on perception beyond a point," a senior executive at a media agency said.
Adding, Kumar of Isobar said, “I have been urging and waiting for Ekam to come alive and measure up to the promise of a single third-party measurement. We are still waiting for all parties concerned to come together for bigger industry good and agree on this and get this rolling fast. The problem is the measurement approach of one platform differs from another and what is right for one may not be acceptable by the rest. This can only happen when all of them agree on one common denominator and work towards it.”