Each of the 15 recommendations made by the Committee set up by the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (MIB) to review the TRP measurement in India is being closely scrutinised by broadcasters, advertisers and ad agencies.
One of the recommendations listed in the Committee’s report state that “TRP announcements at very short intervals may lead to distortion in broadcasting behaviour and, therefore, TRP generation and announcement by the rating agencies, particularly for the news channels, should be done once a week with the possibility to increase the periodicity to a fortnight.”
At present, in the case of TAM Media Research, the ratings are announced bi-weekly for metro markets and weekly for All India. However, in the case of aMap, ratings are announced on a daily basis. Therefore, logically, if the rating announcement period is increased, it will lessen the burden on broadcasters as it will give them more time to strategise their content.
Anurradha Prasad, Chairperson and Managing Director, B.A.G. Films and Media Ltd commented, “If the periodicity of announcement of ratings will change, it will help the industry. At least people working in the news room will not live on a week to week basis.”
She further noted, “Announcement of TRP decides the schedule and programming of any news channel. It is good that this issue was addressed by the Committee in its recommendations submitted to the Ministry.”
The Committee in its recommendations also mentioned that very short intervals might lead to distortion in broadcasting behaviour. Commenting on this, Sudhir Chaudhry, CEO and Editor-in-Chief, Live India and Mi Marathi, said, “Change in the periodicity of announcement of TRP is more like a course correction. It will give channels more time to analyse their content.”
According to him, ideally periodicity should be at least of four weeks as it would give more stability to the content of channels. “But as recommended by the Committee, fortnightly periodicity of broadcasting data will certainly bring out a better picture,” Chaudhry added.
Meanwhile, SK Singh, Editor, Zee News, remarked that whatever be the periodicity of the announcement of TRPs, it should reflect the reality.
When asked what these changes meant from an analysis point of view, Anita Nayyar, CEO, Havas Media, replied, “TRP announcement at very short notice, more than distortion, seems more impractical from analysis point of view. While, many data points provide robustness, it also impacts adversely if too much is read into it.”
On how it would impact buying of a channel, she explained that as People-meter representation was nowhere close to TV household penetration, it made more sense to treat the ratings from a trends perspective rather than following them to the last decimal. “However, GRPs have to be calculated from the brand SOV perspective and has to be used as comparison benchmarks,” Nayyar added.
According to her, a 12 to 24 hour periodicity was good enough. “It is appropriate both to understand immediate viewership and allows for immediate course correction, if any,” Nayyar further said. She was, however, against the possibility of the period of announcement of TRP to be changed to twice a month.
Do you think that TRP announcements at very short intervals lead to distortion in broadcasting behavior - Satyajit Sen, Chief Executive Officer, Zenith Optimedia India, denied any such possibility and said, “No, the data is statistically valid. So interval of measurement is not the issue. Depending on the task at hand one decides the length of interval- so for a trendline one will look at longer data periods, but if one were to look at topicality of events then one will look at smaller data periods.”
When asked that how the change in periodicity of the TRP announcement would impact buying of a channel? Sen remarked that the media data needs to reflect the consumer world as vividly as feasible. Increasingly as the consumer gets more technologically connected, the marketer will seek to look at a consumer diary every minute. “So a longer time band will reduce the sensitivity of the data and will cause a dis-service to the authenticity of the TV data the industry is so proud of,” noted Sen.
Rating Period - Print versus TV
Meanwhile, it is interesting to notice that while print is moving from a six-monthly data cycle to a three-month cycle, here we are speaking of decreasing the frequency of TV data. When asked whether that was progressive, Nayyar remarked that readership was very different from viewership and was more stable. She explained, “Loyalties in print don’t change as frequently as in TV. We don’t change newspapers as often and also the choices are limited as compared to the plethora of channels and programmes. Given that lifestyles and touchpoints are changing, it becomes important to track print readership more frequently. However, the tracking options for print do not have the advantage of People-meter as physical surveys need to be done. Three-monthly track for readerships will allow to understand and adapt to changing trends in reading behaviour.”
"Print data still can survive with a certain longer interval compared to TV. However, TV data needs to be as close to live as possible. Additionally, a slower interval might help some broadcasters to gain additional revenues as the data is relying more on historicity of viewership and that is unfair. So the issue of decreasing frequency of TV data is at contradiction to the media principle of accountability." concluded Sen.