The full-blown tiff between English news channels and BARC India refuses to simmer down with majority of the news channels making their dismay made public. BARC India issued a statement later where it mentioned that issues should be sorted among the broadcasters themselves rather than dragging the organisation into it, following the decision by English News channels to pull out of the TV monitoring agency on May 18. This isn’t the first time that broadcasters have been unhappy with BARC India, earlier too there have been a few instances where there was some discord between the two parties. However, the scale of the discontent was never as big as it is now.
Looking back, earlier this year after the expansion of the BARC Universe, niche channels had reportedly complained about their representation. According to a media report, the English movie genre was 0.43 per cent of the total TV viewership (90.478 million impressions out of the total 21068.373 million impressions) in December 2015. The genre reported to grow to 0.45 per cent (106.318 million Impressions out of the total 23889.022 million Impressions) in December 2016. Meanwhile English Entertainment channels was 0.03 per cent of the total TV viewership (7.216 million Impressions out of the total 21068.373 million Impressions) in December 2015. The percentage was similar in December 2016 cent (7.671 million impressions out of the total 23889.022 million Impressions) in December 2016.
Partho Dasgupta, CEO, BARC India, in an interview to Exchange4media on May 15, had addressed the question related to this, as he said, “We have always maintained and communicated to players in the space that they should look at data over longer durations and larger TG base. This is solely because niche channels, due to their small viewership base, have a relative error that is higher than that of say Hindi GECs or Hindi Movies.”
He had insisted that niche genres have seen a huge growth in viewership, “As mentioned earlier, post the universe update, genres, including niche, have seen a huge growth in viewership. This is also in sync with the ground reality of more homes moving up the socio-economic ladder, digitization leading to a greater sampling of the larger number of channels available to the viewer, growth coming in from Tier 2 and 3 towns etc. Niche genres have grown post the realignment that has happened with our new universe estimate. Now, as we expand our panel homes size, and move towards incorporating Return Path Data (RPD) from digital distribution platforms, the data will get progressively more robust.”
According to a media report, he mentioned that in urban markets English Entertainment Channel’s viewership grew from 4.3 million impressions in December 2015 to 5.6 million impressions in 2016. For the same period English movie genre grew from 5.7 million Impressions to 7.1 million Impressions. In our interview he mentioned that the viewership of English Entertainment grew by 44 per cent.
Then in an earlier instance, BARC’s proposal for reporting data for niche channels had been shot down by the players. So last October at a meeting of stakeholders held in Mumbai, the TV rating agency had proposed to create a separate panel for reporting ratings data for niche channels, including news channels. The former change was not well-received by most attendees. Exchange4media had reported the incident with inputs from attendees including MK Anand, CEO and MD of Times Network. He mentioned that it would ‘distort the playing field and severely impact niche broadcasters.’ As a result later BARC decided to drop the proposal on panel for niche channels.