Industry gives mixed views on BARC India's decision to separate pay and FTA viewership

BARC believes that this move will enable focussed targeting.

MUMBAI: BARC India’s decision to split its reportage of pay and FTA viewership has received mixed reviews from the industry. While some believe that this will be beneficial to both broadcasters and advertisers in channelising their resources, others believe that it has no meaningful objective.

Welcoming the move by BARC India, Times Network president – strategy Vivek Srivastava said, “It aids both broadcaster and advertisers to better channelise their resources. Advertisers need audiences who can spend and there is no point paying for audiences who are on the free platform and don't have the propensity to consume. Advertisers wanting premium audiences, typically news and English, can now better optimise the price they pay to different platforms and not waste marketing monies on non-premium audience from free platforms. Consequently, broadcasters will also stop over-relying on one platform just to get numbers and premium content will get its due.”

From week 27 of 2019, BARC India decided to report viewership from free and pay platform separately. The new variables are offered over and above the current urban and rural cuts that are reported by BARC India. It is made available to all the subscribers for planning and analysis through its proprietary BARC Media Workstation Software and is also published on the website for select genres.

News Nation Network president - sales & marketing Abhay Ojha is of the view that the decision could be of benefit to all stakeholders. He said, “From a broadcaster’s perspective, we can better optimise our organisational resources towards strategising GRP requirements as per the revenue strategy of the network. Alternatively, a planner in an agency can further zero in on the quality of GRP required, depending upon their brand’s core competence and DPOs will get better clarity on ROI of paid and FTA channels. Therefore, holistically it’s a welcome move.”

On the other hand, Ojha noted that for Hindi news channels, it hardly mattered which platform was giving viewership, because national Hindi news channels are most widely distributed and are very dynamic, depending on everyday events. He further pointed out, “Most of the news channels are now being taken for frequency builders rather than reach builders, therefore the pie of revenue is mostly leftover after consumption on GEC, movies, niche, vernacular channels, etc.”

While announcing its move, BARC India CEO Partho Dasgupta had said, “There has been a strong demand from the market for separate reporting of viewership from homes with pay and free connection. We have taken the market feedback in consideration with the changes that have come about in the ecosystem post the implementation of the TRAI tariff order. We believe this move is a step in the right direction to empower the industry in understanding the distinct consumption patterns of this segment and plan more effectively.”

BARC believes that reporting viewership from pay and free platform separately would enable focussed targeting. Advertisers can plan more effectively by placing insertions on the channels available on their platforms in the respective regions. It will also enable the broadcasters to make more informed decisions related to content and distribution.

A broadcaster on the condition of anonymity said, “DD Free Dish has a presence across markets both in urban and rural and across demographics. Segregation of free and pay by a single platform will suit a few networks. It has no meaningful objective that will help the advertiser or broadcaster.”

Dentsu Network, SVP Mayank Bhatnagar said, “From a media planner’s view my audiences are watching a certain set of channels whether they are in pay or FTA platform. This will help us to look at data in a slightly different manner and we will get one more cut now because earlier there was only urban and rural now there are pay and FTA platforms also. It will impact the media planner’s life because they will continue to chase TG which is targeted. From a broadcaster’s point of view, it will give one more dimension in the data cuts to see how they are performing.”

He further said, “Lot of advertisers are looking at FTA channels and they are performing well. So if I have to do a relative comparison only on the pay platform, it will be easier for me to check which are performing well there and I can do a related shift. But otherwise, it’s not going to make any major changes.”

With time, the industry will be able to make better estimations as to the effectiveness of this move.

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