The educative seminar on how to make the best use TRPs, organised by the Indian Television Academy (ITA) and Television Audience Measurement saw discussions on how to use TRPs for the benefit of stakeholders of the Indian media industry. The seminar produced various perspectives from industry experts, who not only gave their views on the current audience measurement system, but also pointed out several loopholes in the system that need due resurrection.
Anu Ranjan, President, ITA, and LV Krishnan, CEO, TAM, started off the seminar by giving an introductory speech prior to the panel discussion. Krishnan gave several instances of how TRPs fluctuate because of highly emotional or dramatised events, changes in the content of television shows, the way people react to celebrity lifestyle, etc.
He pointed that it was important to utilise the TAM findings, and not look at its numbers as mere a set of data. “It is important to understand these numbers and accordingly change content to suit its viewers.” Talking about a simple device of the remote-control, he said that it was the tool that allowed the viewer to shift to another brand for free of cost; and thus it was mighty difficult for broadcasters and producers to keep viewers hooked on to their own channels.
Krishnan pointed out that the episode of the trapped child Prince saw the viewership of Hindi news channels double, clearly beating their rivals in the English news genre. He further said that events like these tend to bring down TRPs of general entertainment channels. Adding to this point later in the panel discussion, Arnab Goswami, Editor-in-Chief, Times Now, agreed that his channel lost considerable viewership during the same episode, and that the channel received incessant telephone calls throughout the day.
The Abhi-Ash marriage was another example that featured in Krishnan’s presentation, who said that even though it was suppose to be kept away from the press, all media channels in the city had had it covered.
According to Smriti Irani, Producer, Ugraya Entertainment, the current measurement tool was not comprehensive to include the North Eastern region, Bihar and other states, including the rural areas. She further explained that TRPs were just a by-product of market forces, and that the programmers or content developers should focus more on what the market trends are.
On explaining the changing roles of journalists, Goswami said that the transition from a mere reporter to a news manager or content developer had taken place 10 years ago, and that it is now essential for news channels to programme shows based on intuitive viewer response.
Anurag Batra, Managing Director and Editor-in-chief, exchange4media Group, made a significant point. He said that the successful events and programmes that brought in higher rating points were more popular because of the word-of-mouth publicity. Further in his discussion, where he pointed out constraints in the current rating mechanism, he said, “One area where TRPs are not effective is the genre of niche markets.” Batra was in agreement with Irani’s point that TAM’s reach was not diversified enough to reflect the overall viewership of the Indian audience.
On the technology front and the challenges ahead, the panel came to a conclusion that it was important for the measurement system to come on platforms like DTH and CAS, which would take place in the near future as the market would fragment further. They also pointed that mobile and podcasts would be yet other important platforms to gauge viewership in a much more comprehensive manner.
Using TRPs to Win: Of television viewing and the numbers game