Divided house on multiple ratings agencies; industry against TV+OTT ratings

IBDF and NBDA differ on the need for multiple ratings agencies in India but fiercely oppose the idea of an integrated viewership for both TV and OTT

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New Delhi: On the need for multiple ratings agencies proposed in the consultation paper for the National Broadcast Policy by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), the two industry bodies – News Broadcasters and Digital Association (NBDA) and Indian Broadcasting and Digital Foundation (IBDF) – have contradicted each other.

While IBDF is of the view that the existing mechanism under BARC India has been reviewed and works well, and there is no need for any policy or regulatory changes, NBDA said that it is time to establish a new, reliable standard for media ratings to bridge the gaps created by relying solely on the existing system.

The News Broadcasters Federation (NBF) led by Arnab Goswami refrained from commenting on the consultation paper.

“The need for multiple rating agencies is justified to foster competition and innovation. It is widely recognised that relying on a single system can lead to stagnation, and BARC's current methodologies—like the use of installed meters—are not fully utilised. Additionally, global precedents from countries like the United States, the United Kingdom, Malaysia, Australia, and the Philippines demonstrate the benefits of having at least two concurrent rating systems,” NBDA said in its reply.

The news television body has suggested steps such as “anonymisation of data”, “avoiding data smoothening”, “Return Path Data mechanism” and a “transparent outlier policy”.

Commenting on structural changes at BARC, NBDA submitted that the ratings body must make the process of selection of the members of the Technical Committee more transparent.

“Further, independent directors could also be introduced and change of management at regular intervals may also result in making the current system more transparent and credible,” NBDA added.

Both NBDA and IBDF fiercely opposed the integration of data from non-linear sources from digital media to cover cross-platform content consumption habits.

The NBDA is of the view that TV audience measurement data should not be fused with digital audience measurements at this stage as there are multiple issues with the current TV audience measurement systems that need to be rectified and streamlined to understand consumer viewership habits in terms of linear broadcasting.

IBDF said that the TRAI does not have the authority to make recommendations on OTT services.

OTT platforms employ diverse techniques to gather insights on user behaviour and customise content accordingly, the largest television industry body said.

OTT platforms use metrics such as Monthly Active Users (MAU) to determine the number of unique users interacting with the service each month. This metric helps track viewership changes over time. For subscription-based services, an effective way to measure viewership is by monitoring the total number of subscribers. Additionally, OTT services analyse consumption patterns using data on device usage, minutes watched, average session duration, churn rate, and traffic sources.

AI and machine learning-driven recommendation systems analyze vast amounts of data to personalise content suggestions on OTT and social media platforms. These systems assess users' digital interactions, learn from these engagements, and refine algorithms through data analytics.

They collect and process data using content-based filtering techniques to customise recommendations.

To evaluate the effectiveness and reach of advertisements, OTT platforms utilise key metrics such as Cost Per Minute (CPM), Cost Per View (CPV), or Cost Per Completed View (CPCV). CPM and CPCV are crucial for assessing the performance of OTT advertisements and the overall marketing effectiveness. These metrics are instrumental in calculating the return on investment for OTT advertising campaigns.

“Given the extensive range of measurement tools already in use by OTT services, the rationale for standardising these methods with those used for TV audience measurement remains ambiguous and is absolutely unnecessary,” IBDF said.

The Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) also opposed the idea of integration of TV and OTT viewership.

“It is important to highlight that, TRPs are primarily applicable for television networks and do not apply to OTT platforms, which use different technology and operate in a fundamentally different manner. As such the relevance of the TRP as applicable to television has no impact on the emergence of the OTT platforms,” IAMAI said.

TRAI Telecom Regulatory Authority of India BARC India National Broadcast Policy IBDF IAMAI I&B ministry Indian broadcasting and digital foundation NBDA News Broadcasters and Digital Association