BARC starts process for new TV viewership measurement architecture

MUMBAI: The Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) on Thursday called for information on state-of-the art television audience measurement from players across the globe, in a first step towards creating India‘s own architecture for computing television viewership ratings.

The BARC has issued a global Request for Information (RFI) to seek understanding of the state-of-the art in the area of television audience measurement research in particular and audience measurement research in more general terms.

In a statement, BARC says the RFI seeks ideas, templates, experiences, that will help BARC to blueprint the new television audience measurement system. It has sought responses to a list of questions which respondents may consider addressing as a part of their response to the RFI. The responses have to be submitted to BARC by 5 February.

Punit Goenka, chairman BARC and MD & CEO, ZEE, said, "BARC is committed to building a Television Audience Measurement System that becomes ipso facto the Gold Standard in its class worldwide. Given that BARC addresses a population of over 1 billion, of which over 0.6 Billion have access to television in some form, I am confident that BARC will settle for nothing less than being the best."

BARC said respondents would also have to make a presentation, in addition to providing their credentials, information on TV measurement markets currently in their portfolio, their organisation structure, their focus towards India and finally their experience with TV audience measurement research.

Shashi Sinha, Chairman, Technical Committee of BARC and CEO-Lodestar UM & CEO-IPG Mediabrands India said, "It is clear that legacy architecture of the (audience measurement) system, that has evolved incrementally, is now ready for seminal change. However, what is not clear is the contours of the new system, which BARC aims to define."

At various times, more than one vendor has attempted to provide audience measurement but from 2002, TAM Media Research, India -- a joint venture of Nielsen and Kantar, has been the de facto provider of the measurement currency, being widely used by all stakeholder constituencies for all commercial and marketing decision-making.

The BARC Technical Committee members comprising Shashi Sinha (representing Advertising Agencies Association of India), Paritosh Joshi, Principal, Provocateur Advisory (representing Indian Broadcasting Foundation) and Smita Bhosale, Head, CMI-Brand Building-South Asia, Hindustan Unilever Ltd (representing Indian Society of Advertisers) would evaluate the responses received.
Respondents will receive the Request for Proposal (RFP) after BARC concludes its study of the responses received.

Television audience measurement in India has been around for nearly three decades. Beginning with a simple diary based system in the early 1980s covering Doordarshan, then the state-owned monopoly broadcaster, it evolved parallel to the evolution of the Indian television market. By the mid-1990s, it was already covering satellite television and in the early part of this century, India was one of the earliest television markets to have a pure Peoplemeter based system.

The challenges for an audience measurement system in an era of digital delivery of television channels brings in its wake a massive expansion in choice of content coupled with accelerating adoption of new technologies that are shifting consumption away from the fixed time chart (FTC); and shifting it to personal digital appliances are altogether different from the era when television meant living rooms, common choices and shared family experience. 

BARC said it understands that a good system rests as much on a sound understanding of the footprint of the medium: the Establishment Study; as it does on continuous tracking of viewing behaviour: the Television Meter Panel.

BARC is also aware of a number of technologies at varying stages of development that promise non-intrusive or minimally intrusive viewership measurement. BARC is also aware of developments in the area of integrated media consumption metrics, e.g. IPA‘s Touchpoints 4 exercise scheduled for next year.

"All these are of interest to the architecture of the future system in India. BARC expects respondents to incorporate their own experiences in these areas as items of emphasis in the response to this RFI," said BARC.

The following are some of the areas BARC expects respondents to address:

1. In-house knowledge and experience in the Television and more broadly, Media Audience Measurement space

2. Global best practices in a number of areas including

a. Vendor owned and managed vs. Joint Industry Body (JIB) or Joint Industry Committee (JIC) owned and managed - Advantages and Disadvantages 

b. System architecture- Establishment, Metering, other services 

c. One vendor or many vendors

d. If multiple vendors, how scopes of work are clearly delineated

e. If multiple vendors, how accountability is clearly defined

3. Sampling design: How viewership volume, viewing intensity, audience economic attractiveness and other factors are accommodated 

4. Measuring viewing across multiple screens

5. Measuring viewing across individual, family and community settings

6. Familiarity with Ascription, Data Fusion and Data Synthesis in multimedia measurement

a. Need for fusing consumption data from multiple media

b. How fused data are being introduced into commercial application

7. Typical relative error levels in measurement systems operating in different geographies.

a. Levels considered generally acceptable for a robust Peoplemeter system 

b. Sampling designs that will ensure a systematically lower relative error

8. Audit mechanisms typically put in place to ensure reportability of data

9. Keeping Panels representative of a fast changing Universe while allowing for continuity of data reads without trend breaks.

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