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Industry reactions on BARC India’s first TV ratings data roll out

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MUMBAI: The seeds for a new television measurement body were sown in 2008 and after a good seven years, on 29 April 2015, the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) India, a joint industry body, rolled out its first set of data for week 16.

Post the release of the data, BARC India said in a statement, “It’s a momentous day in the history of Indian television that will change how content consumption will be monitored and measured. The wait for the industry is over as BARC India rolls out its first set of data.”

The body will be releasing data for 1lakh+ C&S markets, which corresponds to a sample size of 10,760 households. BARC India will actually monitor 12,000 sample households for this, using a stratified random sampling technique that is proven statistically. This will go up to 20,000 reporting homes, with addition of the less than 1 lakh urban markets and rural areas to represent “What India Watches” in line with the Government of India, January 2014 notification.

Speaking on the industry body’s new journey, BARC India CEO Partho Dasgupta said, “I am thrilled to share the first set of Data and Highlights. Solving this puzzle has been an exciting experience and Team BARC India is proud to be creating history as the world’s largest and future ready television audience measurement service. Thanks to IBF, AAAI, ISA and all our partners for coming together and making this happen.”

Just a few minutes after the first data was rolled out, BARC India chairman and ZEEL MD and CEO Punit Goenka tweeted, “The launch of BARC India’s world class television audience measurement system makes it a historic day for the entire industry! With the implementation of @BARCIndia , the ecosystem has certainly turned absolutely transparent! @BARCIndia will certainly be the best solution to report what the nation is actually watching! I would like to thank @parthodasgupta, @paritoshZero ,#ShashiSinha,#SmitaJha & the entire @BARCIndia team for their commitment and hardwork!”

According to Goenka, BARC India is committed to build a world class television audience measurement system. “With an aim to bring in utmost transparency within the ecosystem, BARC India will certainly be the best solution to report what the nation is actually watching," added Goenka.

Dentsu Aegis Network chairman and CEO South Asia Ashish Bhasin said, “Well I think overall BARC is a great step for us as a television measurement system as for the first time we will have transparent, robust measurement. While a lot of excitement is being generated over the data but the only word of caution I would give is that this is one week data of household level. We should give it a few months time for the data to stabilize before the real trends start emerging.  A trend is formed by several data points’ and this is just one. We will have to wait for a while for more trends to emerge.”

Times Network MD and CEO MK Anand is happy with the results as it shows the network’s strength. “We are happy that the new measurement system is finally in place. We look forward to reaping the benefits of this evolved system to the maximum. BARC is technologically advanced and is larger than the erstwhile base of meters by almost two-and-a-half times. An extended viewer base will certainly help bring in more consumers into the analysed set and improve our services to them and thus generate more value. With BARC, we have retained the No.1 spot across channels, and we continue to lead the broadcast space in the respective genres we are present in with a clear margin. Times Network’s ‘Now or Nothing’ philosophy, helps us sustain our leadership across genres with differentiated and hard hitting content and stay on top of the audience pyramid as always.”

Times Now editorial director and editor in chief Arnab Goswami added, “I am delighted with the BARC numbers. It shows us dominating half the market with the other half shared between the smaller English news channels. At 9 pm, we have 2/3rds of the audience with us, with the other one third shared between the smaller channels. Proves our theory that the viewer always chooses the number one news team. In English news now, there is no number 2.”

On the other hand, India Today group CEO Ashish Bagga believes that the ratings by BARC India only adds credibility to the leadership status of Aaj Tak and the trust it enjoys with the news viewers. “The channel’s superiority is backed with years of unwavering focus towards excellence in journalism. I would like to congratulate the entire team at Aaj Tak for crossing another milestone and likewise to BARC for putting together a robust measurement system,” he said.

Network 18 group CEO AP Parigi said, “The first week’s data shows CNBC TV18 as the #1 English business channel, CNBC Awaaz as the #1 Hindi business channel and CNN IBN as the #2 English news channel and IBN 7 as the #6 Hindi News Channel. Colors is #1 Hindi General Entertainment Channel in the prime time slot (7 pm to 11:30 pm). We should be patient and not jump to conclusions; a deeper understanding of how viewership numbers should be interpreted suggests that while one celebrates BARC’s roll out it would be prudent to wait till the system evolves.”

Times Network senior VP and head- English entertainment cluster Vivek Srivastava said, “The first week BARC numbers are in sync with our expectations. Both our brands Movies Now and Romedy Now have been consistent leaders in their respective genres on TAM and we continue to lead the pack on BARC as well.”

Contradicting the general reaction, Helios Media managing director Divya Radhakrishnan said, “These are initial knee jerk reactions. One will have to wait for individual level data as one cannot do media planning with household level data. Secondly, it does not cover all the markets. And thirdly in terms of upsets, it’s more or less the same pecking order except for one or two and there are real reasons why they are not featuring as well.”

Knee jerk reactions aside, over the coming few weeks it will nonetheless be interesting to analyze, evaluate and interpret data from a larger television audience base as recorded by BARC.

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