Media Industry plugs for advanced ratings systems

MUMBAI: The first TV User Body Meet that was organized by MRUC (Media Research Users Council) in Mumbai on 9 September saw lot of issues being discussed around the need for an advanced television ratings measurement system to deal with the evolving viewing and methods of content delivery.

Lintas media services director Lynn de Souza opined that for TV research, the measurement of viewing has always been more important than the measurement of viewers."

She emphasized that digitization increases life of content and, therefore, audience size.

"New business models for the television network, which would comprise subscribed television content, DVD, worldwide syndication, time delayed viewing on PVRs (personal voice recorders), downloaded-to-mobile devices and on-demand (services) on the Internet is going the way forward in the

broadcast industry," she forecasted.

While the current peoplemeters rating are good for large homogenous audience ratings and assessment of television schedules --- pre and post delivery--- they are not adequate for specialist channels, non-domestic viewing in hotels, offices and clubs. Also, they are inadequate for accompanied and

time delayed viewing on extended content.

According to a Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci) report, subscription revenue income is expected to treble in 2008. The subscription revenue income, which stood at $ 1880 million in 2003, will rise to $ 4889 million at compound annual growth rate of 21 per cent in

2008. While in 2003, it accounted for 63 per cent of the total pie; in 2008 it will command 74 per cent of the same.

On the other hand, advertising income, which stood at $ 970 million (33 per cent) in 2003, is expected to reach $ 1505 million (23 per cent) in 2008.

Taking off on the point of measuring television viewing in offices, Hawkins Cookers Ltd chairman and CEO Brahm Vasudeva highlighted that today, apart from media offices, few other offices had a television set.

"Most government offices don't have television sets, so is the case with a lot of private offices. So it's not a question of measuring out-of-home-viewing. We should stop wasting our time I peripheral issues and focus on getting the measurement system adequate and efficient. The current sample is inadequate and the system is a fairly suspect one. The system

needs to be audited thoroughly," he added

Star India CEO Peter Mukerjea, on the other hand, felt that the measurement system needs to be accurate and informative.

With DTH coming in, addressability will increase and there will be a growth in subscription revenues. Declaration is bound to increase and piracy will reduce. Also the impact of advertising will become less critical," he added.

Mukerjea also stressed on the fact that the concept of "prime-time-is-my-time" is going to be become redundant gradually.

However, Lintas de Souza stressed that the debate was not for or against Tam, but more about what the industry needed at this point in time --- basically a ratings system that could keep pace with the changing viewing habit.

Leo Burnett India chairman and CEO Arvind Sharma opined that the most useful thing MRUC could do is to focus on technology and how a larger sample size could be had at an affordable price.

There are a lot of options available in the market as far as technology is concerned," he said.

Hindustan Lever Limited group media manager Central Asia Rahul Welde said that the industry was ready to invest one and a half times the money in one body and to receive significantly richer output. "The fundamental thing is to educate and enlighten users," he said.

MediaCom South Asia president Jasmin Sohrabji, who also happens to be a member of the Joint Industry Body (JIB), said that Tam was in the process of roping in an external auditor soon to enhance its services.

"The proposal for the same has been drafted and we are in the process of roping in an external auditor for Tam," said Sohrabji.

Concurring with Sohrabji at a broader level, MRUC technical committee chairperson Roda Mehta explained that the JIB was formed to address the need for an adequate and accurate television measurement system.

You have to be clear on what you want. We need to evaluate the system and see if there is a way to find the right solution(s)," Mehta added.

In such a scenario where people were stressing on better and advance measurement system, it did not come as a surprise when de Souza in her presentation said that India was the lowest in the world on television homes per peoplemeter.

Summing up, she said, "What is required today is an audit system, which will vet what the current television measurement bodies are doing. Also, supplementary data on the current sample size should be provided. All of us present here today are unanimous in our belief that the current rating systems and sample size are not adequate. What is required is to improve the speed of delivery and reliability of data."

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