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BARC must review sample homes as current set not accurate under new TV ecosystem, say industry experts

After a gap of eight weeks, BARC released data for Week 13, which showed some disruption across genres. BestMediaInfo.com spoke to experts to figure out what they make of the first set of data after the new tariff structure. They criticised TRAI for forcing BARC to make the numbers public

The new tariff order of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has not only hit India’s broadcasting hard but it may soon also change the way BARC picks sample homes for calculating viewership data.

Terming the first set of BARC data after the tariff order rollout as unreliable, broadcasting leaders and senior executives of top brands told BestMediaInfo.com that it was about time that BARC tweaked its sample homes for calculating viewership data as the current sample doesn’t fit well according to the new TV ecosystem.

“In order to have reliable measurements, it has been suggested that BARC will have to reconsider its sample homes as the current sampling won’t be accurate for the new TV ecosystem,” said an industry leader while requesting anonymity.

The experts have also come down heavily on TRAI for forcing BARC to make the viewership data public. Another expert told BestMediaInfo.com that the only reason why regulatory authority forced BARC to make the data public was because it wanted to show that everything was hunky dory. “Whereas, the on-ground situation is complete opposite as there have been TV blackouts at a major level because of the TRAI-induced disruption,” he added.

In the wake of the distribution disruption, BARC India had earlier decided to restrict the publication of TV measurement on public platforms, calling the data ‘against public interest’. But after a gap of eight weeks, BARC succumbed to TRAI’s pressure and released the numbers for Week 13 on the public domain on April 8, 2019.

The rating clearly reflects the disruption caused in the TV distribution ecosystem after the implementation of NTO, as the ratings have been projected on the universe of 200 million homes.

The experts echoed BARC’s views and said that though the data is not incorrect, it is unreliable as the market is yet to settle. A leading advertiser said there are homes that are yet to choose their packs. “Though TRAI has said the implementation is complete, there are some people who are yet to choose their packs. As a result of this, there have been blackouts,” he said. 

According to the latest BARC data, it seems that channels with an established identity or FTA channels with availability on DD Freedish are faring well. However, the experts believe that it is not true as the current ratings are not the accurate representation of viewership.

“Currently, the market is in the state of flux, which is why the ratings seem skewed. Once things settle down, it will change. The samples for measurement aren’t ready, which is why they are completely unreliable. BARC doesn’t want industry to use this data. A proper letter has come from ISA as well saying, please don't use that data as it is not representative,” another expert said.

The expert said, “By and large, BARC is a very good parameter, the only problem is that with NTO happening, the sample that we have of 35,000-40,000 homes have been projected on the universe of 200 million homes. So at this point, since there is instability to the point of the blackout, the samples can give unreliable data. It is not necessarily incorrect but it is unreliable data. It is not like BARC is doing a better job of saying what those 40,000 homes are doing but projecting those 40,000 to the universe that could change. It is volatile because people are still making up their minds on what to watch. So we will have to wait and watch. Right now, it is early days but it should get stabilised very soon.”


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