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BARC restrains use of viewership data as new tariff regime brings disruption

The new data will be released after re-assessing the viewing behaviour under the new universe

As distribution platform operators (DPOs) and local cable operators (LCOs) begin to implement Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (TRAI) new tariff order, a change is happening in the manner consumers subscribe to TV channels. The new regime allows consumers to pay only for those channels they want to watch.

The change in consumption is further disrupting the viewership pattern. Keeping in mind the changes in the TV-owning household universe, BARC India has decided to stop the release of viewership data in the public domain but will share weekly data with its subscribers.


BARC observed some disruption in viewership in Week 6, 2019, and so decided to temporarily stop publishing viewership numbers to the press and on public domain (website, app, Heads-up, Alpha Club, Kids report, etc). The data shared with its subscribers won’t be accurate as there is on-ground instability and the figures are likely to be volatile. Hence any public communication and/or leadership claims would not be as per fair usage of BARC data, and may even lead to confusion in the market.

The viewership shared by the BARC India Panel is representative of TV-owning household consumption and will continue to be representative of this universe during the TRAI-NTO implementation period. But after the new regime is implemented, the BARC universe will undergo a change and the ratings agency will need to re-assess the viewing behaviour.


The whole process may take two weeks to settle and BARC will need another four weeks to gather data on the new consumption trend. So, it will take around six weeks to understand the new changes and their impact on consumption. Once after that the company can release an authentic viewership data set.

The disruption in data is generally recorded following BARC’s data validation process based on past 13 weeks’ behaviour. But now, the benchmark based on the pre-January 31 behaviour is not applicable as the consumers are in the process of transition and adjusting to the new system. The validation process will be dysfunctional until the transition is over and BARC sets new norms based on the 13-week behaviour.

Also channels available within each weighing cell of state, town-class and NCCS cell for the TV-owning household universe keep changing by the day, thereby creating irregularity in the consumption pattern. Currently, BARC India has a panel of 40,000 TV-owning households, which will be stretched to mirror this transition. This variation will mean channel availability among individuals within each weighing cell in the BARC India panel will not reflect channel availability among individuals within the same weighting cell of the TV-owning household universe. This will violate the essential pre-condition of weighing.

The current scenario is quite similar to the situation faced by BARC during the implementation of DAS-I, DAS-II, DAS-III and DAS-IV panel. Even then the company had adapted its viewership data to the new universe.



Tags: BARC
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