News channels demand monthly TAM ratings

The News Broadcasters Association has initiated a conversation with TAM Media Research to change data release frequency from weekly to monthly. While the conversation has just begun, industry stakeholders such as media agencies believe the suggestion is a step backward.

e4m by Noor Fathima Warsia
Updated: Sep 5, 2011 8:35 AM
News channels demand monthly TAM ratings

The News Broadcasters Association (NBA) is of the opinion that changing the TAM Media Research data release frequency from weekly to monthly would benefit the industry. The NBA has hence initiated a conversation with TAM in this context. While the talks had begun a month ago, NBA has now written to TAM with this request.

This essentially means that even as TAM would collect data and process it as it does at present, it would not release news channels data every week, but on a monthly basis.

News broadcasting sources state that the reason for this request is that news as a genre doesn’t benefit from weekly release of ratings. While NBA officials couldn’t be contacted at the time of filing the report, a senior news channel official explained, “News is not like other content. There is sanctity and sensitivity to it and it cannot be reported like other genres. Print for the longest time has survived with six months measurement data, so why should there be a weekly reporting for news channels? Weekly reporting of numbers only creates frenzy and pressure in editorial teams.”

The industry per se doesn’t see the argument strong enough to seek monthly ratings. Mindshare South Asia Leader R Gowthaman stated, “I have strong reservations on this suggestion. We are looking to move to real time management and we need data that would support us. We hope to know what a commercial is delivering real time for the client so course can be corrected where needed at the earliest. And today television is competing with mediums like radio. One will invest in mediums that are helping you with real time measurement. Monthly ratings are like being in 1990 again!”

Another media observer pointed out, “Advertisers are likely to put money where they can know the returns on investments in a similar manner as other genres do. And over a period of time, it may well happen that the other genres, which were easily reported in a plan, get an advantage over the news genre.”

Speaking to exchange4media, TAM Media Research CEO L V Krishnan said, “TAM data is used by individual channels, agencies and marketers, amongst other users. We would have to connect with each of our subscribers and ensure that this is what everyone wants. We have to be sure that the complete implications of this move are understood and the industry takes an informed decision.”

In the last five to six years, news channels have attracted a decent advertiser base to take the news channels advertising market at Rs 1,000 crore. Credit can be given to measurement in helping the genre. But broadcasters also point out that news channels, like other genres, have not been able to hike ad rates in the same manner as the cost base has grown.

The dialogue between news channels and TAM Media Research is still in initial stages. Even as this is just a beginning, an obvious question is whether other genres can take inspiration from this as well, as importance of content and pressure on programming is true for all genres in television.

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