NDTV’s lawsuit against Television Audience Measurement (TAM) created furor in the media industry. Now English business channel Bloomberg TV India too has raised issues by highlighting the disproportionate measuring system and inadequate sample size for measurement of ratings.
“There is a stark issue with the TAM data which says that twelve people, in a large city such as Mumbai, are the entire sample size for the English business news genre. Similarly, there are low numbers for all other niche channels such as English entertainment, infotainment, etc.” said Sriram Kilambi, President, Bloomberg TV India.
“There is a huge discrepancy between what the channel (Bloomberg TV India) seems to be delivering and the rating it is getting. When we dug deep and did a research using TAM’s own data and tools for about 23 weeks, we found these nine people in the Capital and 12 in Mumbai. Their current processes work very well for GECs but not for niche channels such as ours,” said Kilambi, explaining that the numbers TAM is setting out for niche categories are incorrect and are extrapolated to the industry. Hence, it should stop rating the English business news channel genre.
Kilambi and his team have also come up with a set of recommendations highlighting that TAM should revamp its reporting processes and practices for niche channels. He mentioned that the current processes are resulting in loss of reputation and advertising revenues for Bloomberg TV India.
It may be recalled that on close heels of NDTV lawsuit, Prasar Bharati too had raised an alarm about taking legal action against TAM for suppression of statistics related to viewership for Doordarshan and its associated channels. Though Bloomberg TV has not indicated any imminent court play, the representing authorities of the channel have said that ‘it is an option in case these recommendations are not taken seriously’.
Bloomberg TV India has been in talks with TAM for about 23 weeks as it claims. However, they haven’t got any substantial explanation for these figures that they have acquired from TAM’s Viewergraphic data. “Though TAM has been very forthcoming in our interactions, we have been ticked off by inaction,” elucidated Kilambi.
Bloomberg officials further explained more about Viewergraphics. He said it is a software provided by TAM wherein one can identify TV viewing pattern time band-wise and channel-wise at an individual sample respondent level for each TAM market. The target group can also be split by various demographic parameters such as age, gender, socio-economic classification as well as the mode of receiving TV in their homes (terrestrial, analog cable, digital cable).
The table below denotes the data for a particular week in Mumbai and Delhi, which shows that in week 13 of 2012, overall 13 people in the target group of Males 25+ SEC A with digital connection in the TAM sample watched any English business news channel, this sample size of 13 people is then extrapolated to about 60 thousand people watching these channels in Mumbai and likewise in Delhi.
Source: TAM India Viewergraphics, Weeks: 13 to 35, 2012, Time: 2:00-25:59, All Days, TG: Digital Male 25 Years+ SEC A
A release by Bloomberg TV also says that TAM data shows that Mumbai and Delhi account for 62 per cent English business news viewership of eight metros in the digital Male 25+ SEC A, a key TG for advertisers.
Bloomberg TV India’s recommendations to TAM:
• Stop reporting the viewership numbers of the English business news genre till the time the anomaly is corrected and the sample size is increased.
• Broadcasters/industry body should be allowed to conduct random checks at the sampling homes.
• As DAS takes centre stage, there should be adequate sampling within the add-on packs to ensure that the current discrimination against the niche channels is addressed.
• Alternatively, TAM should find a solution for the niche channels by designing a separate process/mechanism of reporting viewership for niche channels.
Post digitisation, there are expectations that even the ratings mechanism will be effected. However, Kilmabi said that if the sample size doesn’t change, nothing will change. “Ratings are a function of sample size. Pre-digitisation and post digitization, we are just asking for a robust sample for channels like ours. There are a lot of statistical tools available to the experts. They can boost the sample size,” he stressed.
When contacted TAM, a spokesperson from the agency said, “As a policy, we do not correspond with or respond to our clients via the media.”