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Commentary: Why News channels must uphold sanctity of BARC viewership data

The BARC viewership data for news channels will be out before noon today. Learning from the past, news channels must avoid getting into dogfights and uphold the sanctity of data as a viewership indicator. Foolproofing BARC processes is a long term game and NBDA has already agreed to review it in three months

The news genre is set to get its viewership currency back today after a hiatus of 17 months and all the players except NDTV would get the answer to every advertiser’s question - where is the data?

It may be a big result day for a few players but largely the industry is looking forward to the return of the ratings for the news genre with a pinch of salt.

Every sample-based data is extrapolated and comes with a margin of error. But the way broadcasters have treated BARC data, it seems they consider it as the final verdict. It is evident that the broadcasters have forgotten that BARC’s currency is an indicator and will remain so forever.

The fluctuation in ratings by a few thousand impressions on a weekly basis does not make or break the prospects of a channel.

The players, who will reflect grace both in their presentation and behaviour, will witness sustainable growth in terms of ad volume at better rates.

Every broadcaster is fighting the battle of perception in order to make sure they are there in every advertiser’s media plan. Better ratings and rankings make the sales team’s job easy at the entry-level.

But is that all? No. A large FMCG company that picks top-3 channels for advertising, spends more on No. 3 channel than the No. 1 and No. 2 channels.

The point here is that the perspectives of broadcasters and advertisers on ratings are very different.

Advertisers have taken’s initiative against toxicity on news channels seriously and for any conscious advertiser, a well-behaved channel is the priority.

Advertisers would look at TRPs but that is more from the perspective of justifying their spends.

News Broadcasters and Digital Association (NBDA) has already told BARC India that they will review the changes after three months and it is expected that the NBDA members will behave gracefully during this period.

However, an industry leader who did not want to be named told that it will be difficult for most of the players to maintain sanity given their fragile ego and self-centred attitude. “On the other hand, it is unlikely that the trouble makers will mend their ways. But during the data dark post the TRP scam, marketers have learned how to deal with such situations and broadcasters must realise that their theatrics are not going to work anymore.”

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