The Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC), which is expected to commence operations from October this year, recently roped in Prime Focus Technologies (PFT), a subsidiary of Prime Focus, for play-out power monitoring services to power measurement audience systems.
In January this year, BARC had announced Medaimetrie, a French joint industry body, as its technology partner. As per the agreement, Mediametrie will provide technological know-how and licenses to BARC to use their TV metering system and also help BARC procure its own metering hardware. The agency will use watermark technology to decipher what channel is being watched at what time.
Prime Focus Technologies will enable BARC to monitor what kind of content (both TVCs and programmes) is being watched at a certain period of time. It would be scanning over 400 channels in 18 languages everyday and would be analysing and capturing the kind and genre of content being watched at a given time of measurement. The number of channels is likely to go up to 700. This would not only evangelize the ratings, but would also extrapolate a trend; something which could be extremely useful for the marketers and media planners. This is also the first time that a full time digital play-out monitoring service will be used by a TV rating agency in India.
Will this make the ratings system more robust? Officials at BARC maintain an affirmative yes.
Partho Dasgupta, CEO, BARC, on being asked whether the act of inclusion of PFT and the objective it has been roped in for will give a new dimension to the TV rating system, said, “Yes, of course. Prime Focus Technologies adds huge value in the process by providing automated tagging of content, promos and TVCs. It would do this every day.”
Paritosh Joshi, member of the technical committee at BARC, added here, “BARC has been parcelling out different functions and parts to credible agencies. PFT would be a crucial part of the business. They would at certain point of time assess what kind of content is being watched. The improvement and change which BARC is trying to bring to the Indian ratings ecosystem would be both qualitative and quantitative. This continuous improvement trend would continue even after the agency is launched.”
Officials at BARC are also hopeful of delivering ratings from October 2014.
On the other side, marketers and media planners we spoke to mention that it would be too early to deduce something, but the developments so far look promising.
A senior FMCG marketer remarked, “A lot of confusion prevails when it come to TV ratings. One is not blaming the existing rating agency, but if one scans all the news channels in the recent past, everybody is projecting themselves as the number one player during election coverage. Everybody cannot be number one. I hope that there is a firm clarity and authoritative stand taken on how the ratings would be projected by the channels. The broadcasters need to get their acts right as well here.”
He further added, “Whether BARC would be a game changer or not is too early to comment and would eventually be known when results start pouring in, but I hope that addition of PFT should be a positive development.”
Funding of BARC
When it comes to funding, the stakeholders have repeatedly refused to divulge any details, but it is learnt from senior industry sources that funding is still a subject of discussion and has still not concluded. There is no set flowchart, but funding will be required in phases and accordingly the stakeholders will also be funding in phases. In all, Rs 25 crore was raised in the first phase of funding of BARC.
As of now, debt funding from the broadcasters is in place. It was earlier also learnt that funding from advertisers would happen depending upon the scale on which a particular advertiser spends on TV. However, as per sources, major advertisers have not been approached for funding as of now.
India, with close to 160 million TV households, is a huge market. Out of this, most of the households are single TV homes. Major advertisers plan their media allocation on television considering these parameters as a yardstick.
At present, things seem positive and industry is looking up to the agency with high expectations. Whether BARC delivers on its promises and is able to deliver robust operations as promised and that too on time remains to be seen.