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Channels gear up for BARC's April launch

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Channels gear up for BARC's April launch

Broadcasters and industry insiders indicate that highly anticipated alternative currency to TAM, BARC (Broadcast Audience Research Council), ratings system for television audience measurement, is set to roll out by April.  However, there hasn’t been any official communication from BARC in this regard as of now. Recent media reports also suggest BARC is likely to be launched in the month of April, 2015.

When asked about delay in the launch of the council, Partho Dasgupta, CEO of BARC India, said, “Being a joint industry body, BARC India will make public announcements when the Techcom and Board of Directors give the go-ahead to do so. We are very close to the launch date.”

Initially, the council was expected to be launched in October last year. This rating system is expected to be an alternative to the current system bring operated by TAM, a joint-venture between Kantar Media and Nielsen.

Last week, BARC had conducted its second phase of road show in Mumbai and demonstrated before a hall, packed largely with media planners, the properties the new rating system has to offer. Apart from the graphical representation of tracking audience movement between channels, the software also allows users to track audience measurement per second across various channels. 

exchange4media talks to broadcasters about their expectations with the new rating system.

Rural markets

“It is going to be chaotic initially because I don’t think anybody knows what the rural market is like. Also, it is going to be difficult to bring rural and five northeast states along. We don’t know what northeast (market) looks like and it is also going to get Jammu & Kashmir (market). These are new entities for us, but it is going to be exciting,” said Neeraj Vyas, SVP and Business Head of Sony Max, Sony Max 2 and Sony MIX.

He added, “From our genre point of view, there could be a hell lot of potential in rural markets. But a lot of leg work will be needed to be done. We will have to visit villages and study consumers in those markets. The consumer is going to be very different. It is probably going to be a harsh learning, but the sooner we get down to the tracks and see the reality, the better it is for all of us. At the same time, we will need to innovate and experiment. The worrying part is a lot of money will be spent there, but I don’t know if the returns will be in the same proportion.”

Pradeep Hejmadi, Business Head of Zee TV, says, “BARC promises to bring to table an understanding about rural, which is lacking at present. It also promises to bring in more reliability in figures that get published. This is a welcome move. What will be important for us to understand is certain territories because they will go into new geographical areas, where nobody has ventured. So it will be a year or a short phase and it depends on learning.”

However, broadcasters will have to wait till Phase II of the launch as rural market ratings will only emerge by then. This is because the watermarking of terrestrial signals is yet to go live, which has caused the delay, says Dasgupta. In Phase I, only L1 towns plus urban India will be covered.

Better segmentation of audience  

“What I can say about the measurement system, which is demonstratively superior in terms of research design. By research design it could be the sampling part of it, more robust sampling covering a larger population, segmenting individuals in a finer way on what their economic or education status are. Overall, it is a more robust or transparent system. It will only do good to the industry and stakeholders,” said Krishna Desai, Network Head-Kids Entertainment, Turner International.

Speaking on the availability of another option in ratings measurement system, Nina Jaipuria, EVP-Kids Cluster at Viacom 18, said, “The fact that the BARC is a step closer to being introduced shows the industry’s need for a measurement system that offers a wider sample size and results in better content for consumers. All stakeholders would accept it because they have contributed to BARC and are committed to it. Therefore, we will come out of this monopolistic situation of TAM and have another currency to look at.”

She added, “Also, they (BARC) have a fairly large sample size and because of the number of meters, we have a better representation. Plus, they have redefined SECs. I don’t know what the first report is going to look like, but the move is in the right direction.”

Results will say it all

“From the seminars that I have attended where they talk about BARC and how they plan to structure the research, it seems to be some well-thought through plans in place. The proof of the pudding is in eating. It depends on how balanced the sample size is going to be and what kind of viewership patterns emerge from that,” said Keertan Adyanthaya, MD, NGC Network India & Fox International Channels.

He added, “There was some key lacuna in the previous system that they plan to address and we need to see whether those things happen. I think they are doing some test sampling, but we haven’t seen any results yet. At this point, it is a too early to say how good or bad it is.”

Sangeetha Aiyer, VP & Head-Marketing, History TV18, A+E Network TV18, says, “The fear that many have is -- we are replacing one not-so-perfect monopolistic system with another. But these fears are largely unfounded because BARC has all three stakeholders working closely to make it a success. It will definitely be a learning experience for all of us and a great exercise in working together to achieve a uniform industry-recognised standard, a precedent that has so far eluded the sector.”

Nikhil Gandhi, VP & Head-Revenue at Disney India, said, “It is too early to say. None of the findings have been shared with us so far. From the initial understandings, the system will definitely address a larger base of viewers. The fact that all three stakeholders are involved will mean that it will move to a different kind of system and dynamics. We still have to wait and watch till it eventually comes out.”


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