Ratings on site: BARC consults stakeholders, broadcasters say it doesn't make a difference

TRAI on Monday asked BARC to start publishing the viewership data of TV channels on its site immediately

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Two days after the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) directed BARC India to publish the viewership data of past weeks on its website immediately, BARC has responded saying that they are “taking a considered view on that post consultation with stakeholders.” 

A BARC India spokesperson told exchange4media, “TRAI has advised us that we should also consider resuming the display of top channels and programmes data on our website. We are taking a considered view on that post consultation with our stakeholders.” 

BARC India also set the record straight by informing that it has not stopped publishing its viewership data. “Every week, at 11 am sharp, all our subscribers have been getting all India weekly data without a hitch for the last 175 weeks, including the last two weeks that correspond to the NTO transition. However, we have published data of the last two weeks with the caveat that there are changes taking place on ground due to NTO rollout due to which the viewership numbers will be volatile during the transition period,” the spokesperson said.

“The India Society of Advertisers (ISA) too has advised its members that our data should not be used for media planning and buying in the transition period,” added the spokesperson.

While BARC is consulting stakeholders to decide if it should start publishing data on site yet again, we spoke to broadcasters to understand their take on the issue.

According to Avinash Pandey, CEO, ABP News Network, the viewership data is needed only by the industry and not the general public so what is the big deal if it’s not going on the site?

"The data, even though not published on the website, is still available to the advertisers, clients and broadcasters. So what is the big deal if it is not going on the website? And why are people worried about it? It’s not a data for consumption outside the industry. It’s not for the general public use. General public is not interested in knowing which channel is getting what ratings. Public is interested in the content. Consumers don’t care who is No 1 or No 5. Consumers care what they like,” he said.

“ISA has issued a statement asking everyone to not look at the data of the intervening period for any planning and buying purposes. So right now this data is not in consideration for any planner or buyer. So how does it matter whether it is public or not?" 

Pawan Jailkhani, Chief Revenue Officer, 9X Media, too believes that BARC ratings are available for the subscribers and they are getting the information anyway.

"How does it make a difference? BARC is saying that it is sending data to its subscribers. From the advertising point of view, if an agency is a subscriber or a client is a subscriber, he evaluates me on that rating. My job is done. They are not making it public. Public doesn’t see the ratings to watch a channel. Ratings are largely currency for advertising. BARC subscribers are largely agencies, clients and broadcasters. And they have said that they will release data to the subscribers. So how does it matter?" explained Jailkhani. 

Industry experts, on the other hand, feel that ISA advising its members not to consider BARC data for media buying, planning and evaluation during the transition period is a more serious matter.

"Tomorrow if all FTA channels are doing well, it only indicates that FTA channels are well-connected and pay channels will take some time to settle down," a senior executive from a leading broadcasting network explained.

Varun Kohli, CEO of iTV network, also feels that ISA’s directive is creating confusion among clients. "A lot of clients are confused on how to measure effectiveness of a campaign as the data is unstable."

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