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TAM ratings imbroglio: How it all panned out...

26-July-2013
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TAM ratings imbroglio: How it all panned out...

The industry was well aware that there was a serious friction between the broadcasters and the ratings agency TAM. The lines were officially drawn when three major networks Multi Screen Media (MSM), Times Television Network (TTN) and New Delhi Television Limited (NDTV) withdrew their subscriptions from TAM. TAM – broadcaster spat reaches flash point as 2 major networks threaten pullout

Speculations were rife that other broadcasters would follow suit and as expected major broadcasters such as Network18, STAR India, Discovery, etc. also withdrew their subscriptions from the agency. This was followed by a lot of to and fro between the two sides with none of them ready to blink. While TAM demanded money to expand the sample size and cater to the needs of channels, broadcasters alleged that TAM as a metric agency has lost its relevance and does not recognise the existence of the problem. Raise funds, we will deliver dreams: LV Krishnan

In addition to this, broadcasters stated that TAM data does not represent true sample size and the expanding universe of TV. Broadcasters were also keen that LC1 markets data should not be included in the ratings as it is very uncertain.Chaos over LC1, TAM's biggest challenge

A breakthrough was reached when advertisers and media agencies stepped in. AAAI and ISA backed TAM and conveyed that they do not support the stand of broadcasters in the absence of another credible rating system. The advertisers pertinently and firmly said that they would continue to evaluate channels based on TAM ratings only. Disgruntled advertisers & media agencies speak up

The broadcasters then took the issue to a new level. Broadcasters now had two broad demands: TAM data should be reported monthly and not weekly, and the evaluation mode of ratings should be on the basis of Cost Per Thousand (CPT) and not Cost Per Ratings Points (CPRP). Broadcasters stated that CPT was a universal practice in the developed markets and this practice should be practiced in India as well. CPRP or CPT? Industry stakeholders divided

The advertisers and agencies rejected both the demands of the broadcasters. Various media planners and advertisers said that the ratings system is not robust enough to implement CPT methodology. Also, they mentioned that the CPRP methodology takes care of the stickiness factor, which does not happen in case of CPT. As far as monthly ratings is concerned, media planners have been vocal that it would be difficult to implement a campaign on monthly rating parameters.

This was followed by eight broadcasters sending a letter to TAM that their ratings data should be released on a monthly and not weekly basis. TAM confirms monthly ratings for select channels; moves to CPT format

This step was again seen as regressive by the advertisers, who refused to advertise on those channels that were asking for monthly ratings. Major FMCG and other advertisers started cancelling their Release Orders in this context, urging that the ratings should move towards real time and not monthly. Livid advertisers start pulling out ads from TV

Following this, some broadcasters reverted to weekly ratings, while the others stuck to their stand on monthly ratings. Ratings impasse solution might be in the offing as Discovery goes back to weekly data

Media planners were of the opinion that difference over rating timeframe would not work and that the rating has to be uniform for all the channels. Media planners demand uniformity as TAM data gets split between monthly & weekly

According to sources, some stakeholders in the broadcasting community then suggested that a two-way rating system may work, wherein monthly ratings can be considered for niche channels, while weekly reach figures can be considered for mainline channels. Additionally, the weekly data will be rolling weekly as opposed to the single week data given earlier. The stakeholders also suggested that ratings for Live events such as IPL should be released only post the event. However, these suggestions were not accepted by the ISA, citing difficulty over assessment of the credibility of a Live event and uniformity of ratings. Weekly reach - Monthly ratings: Another solution tossed in the air

Some sources shared with exchange4media that a solution is being evolved among all the stakeholders on different types of ratings: Platinum, Gold and Silver. According to the sources, data within each levels of subscription will be around permutations of weekly vs. monthly and reach vs. TVRs. For instance, a Platinum data subscription will make available all data, including TVRs, on a weekly basis. Gold and Silver will have different cuts of frequency and might only have reach figures. Additionally, weekly data in any of the subscription levels would be rolling weekly as opposed to single week data that was being release by TAM earlier. TAM impasse solution in sight: Platinum, Gold, Silver data is way forward

Finally IBF, ISA, AAAI reached a consensus on July 25, 2013 and resolved the issue after almost seven weeks. A press release sent out jointly by IBF, ISA and AAAI stated, “In layman terms, the media and public will now get to know television viewership in thousands, colloquially referred to as TVT. It captures and reflects growth in TV audiences in the country in absolute numbers. TVT will be the sole rating available in the public domain.”

The release further stated, “For internal evaluation, including planning and buying, %TVR weekly and all other data will be available to advertisers and advertising agencies as in the past. Broadcasters will also have access to this information, should they so desire.” IBF, AAI, ISA & TAM reach consensus on TV audience measurement

(With inputs from Abid Hasan)

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