Return Path Data is the way to go in future, feel industry players

A session was recently held to discuss how RPD- based measurement improves robustness and accuracy of TV viewership data, and how it has been deployed in global markets

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: Jun 1, 2018 8:53 AM

In a wide and diverse country like India, data collection and analytics are becoming increasingly relevant for the television industry. One of the technologies that makes this job easier is Return Path Data (RPD).

A session was recently held during an event to discuss how RPD-based measurement improves robustness and accuracy of TV viewership data, and how it has been deployed in global markets for better advertising targeting and to improve revenues and subscriber management.

The question of the hour was How Return Path Data Will Turbo-Boost Television Audience Measurement Globally? And who better to answer the question than those who dabble in the space-- Debkumar Chakrabarti - Principal Advisor (B&CS), TRAI; Ricardo Gomez-Insausti - VP Research, Numeris Canada; Kaushik Kunal Das- Head, Data Science & IT, Star India; Arun Unni-Chief Content Officer, TataSky; Amit Arora -EVP, IndiaCast; and Sanjay Jain - Group CTO, DEN Networks. The session was moderated by Vynsley Fernandes, Executive Director, Castle Media.

Tata Sky has already started its own RPD. Talking about the technology, Arun Unni said, “It's not easy to get unbiased and clean information from the ground, especially when you have to take business decisions on the back of that information. We have started satellite-based RPD process. We collect the information not just about the content but also the various facilities we provide. We also measure a bunch of channels that are not even measured by BARC.”

Unni also highlighted the importance of increasing the size of the panel home. According to him, while Tata Sky started RPD with 10,000 boxes, they upped the count to 30,000 in the last three years. “Considering the fast changing consumer profile in India, the choice of content changes. This makes it important to refresh the panel every year,” he said.

Unni, however, added that while Tata Sky has a panel size of 30,000, it still represents only 7-8 per cent of the Indian households. BARC India data can represent the country better, he added. “RPD will be the lifeline in future and every decision will be taken on the basis of its data.”
According to Amit Arora, there should be a single agency for Return Path Data as this will make sure that the platform remains neutral.  “It is important that the institution using RPD is representative of the approximately 1100 players in the country,” Arora said.

Den Networks has already partnered with BARC India for RPD. The motivation for DEN to join hands with BARC came from their need to go beyond just installing DEN STBs in the subscribers’ home, according to Sanjay Jain.
“We wanted insights into viewer behaviour to understand who is watching what. This data in important for us to be able to present the kind of content that consumers actually want,” he said.

Debkumar Chakrabarti, meanwhile, suggested that a single third-party body with proper governance structure is best placed to carry out RPD.

“It has been the experience in other fields that multiple bodies can lead to conflict and confusion,” said Chakrabati.

Star has subscribed to the RPD data from Tata Sky. They too agree that broad-basing the RPD panel would be the right way to move ahead.

“For better targeting, we need to experiment. Currently, we do not have enough data that gives deep insights into consumer behaviour,” said Kaushik Kunal Das.

Also, since RPD is sample based (and not census), privacy concerns are naturally addressed, felt the panelists.

All in all, the industry veterans agreed that Return Path Data is the way to go in the future because it will increase the sample size and the understanding across stakeholders, including broadcasters, distributors and advertisers. It will also benefit the consumer. They all also agreed that it is important to have a single body to which will monitor all the data.

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